We may earn a commission if you make a purchase through one of our links. The LA Times editorial staff was not involved in the creation of this content. Learn more

Jam Out With The Best Earbuds on The Market

  1. Apple AirPods Pro
  2. Echo Buds (2nd Gen) Wireless Earbuds
  3. Treblab X3 Pro Wireless Earbuds
  4. Bowers & Wilkins PI5 True Wireless Earbuds
  5. AIRPRO Wireless Earbud
  6. Skullcandy Sesh Evo Wireless Earbud
  7. Lasuney IPX7 Waterproof Wireless Earbuds
  8. Buyer's Guide

Earphones are by far the easiest and most cost-effective way to listen to music. Earphones offer not only the conveniences of portability and durability, but also tend to represent a higher value for money, in terms of absolute sound quality with regards to sound resolution and expression of detail, than full-sized headphones. They lack the more refined aspects of sound presentation that can only be reproduced by proper speakers or open headphones, like a sense of 3-dimensional space, but some high-end multi-driver earphones can simulate these aspects very effectively. They also function as multi-purpose listening devices, as they can be used with cell phones to increase call quality and isolation from unwanted noise; some even feature microphones and volume and/or track controls to this end. Some people even use earphones at concerts to help protect their hearing.

The earphones in these lists have been chosen as the best for their particular price points and target audience, offering different solutions for casual listeners, audiophiles, studio engineers, and performing musicians, and ranging in price from pocket change to serious investment. The best way to shop for an earphone is to try as many of them as possible; if that is not an option, it's generally wise to set a price limit, and pick the best earbuds in 2021 for your listening style and preferred genres. Also keep in mind that, while sound is usually the most important feature, how much you enjoy the earphone is also going to depend on how happy you are with the amount of money you spend; if you pick an earphone from these lists, and feel that you've been ripped off, odds are you are either spending more than you personally wanted to spend on earphones, or your pick is missing some feature or characteristic that you were expecting, but perhaps didn't take into consideration.

There are two different types of driver technology used in modern earphones: dynamic drivers and balanced armatures. Most earphones, and indeed most headphones and speakers, use a dynamic driver, a moving diaphragm that vibrates in its entirety in order to produce different frequencies. They tend to be the most effective at producing pounding low frequencies, and higher-end dynamics give bass a tactile presence and texture that very few balanced armatures can match. Most of the earphones discussed here use dynamic drivers, unless otherwise noted.

Balanced armatures are a more complex type of speaker, having only very small moving parts, most widely known for their use in hearing aids, cochlear implants and other aural-assistive technologies, applications for which their small size makes them ideal. However, as armature technology has evolved, the quality of sound they can reproduce has increased drastically, and they are now featured in the majority of high-end earphones due to their tonal accuracy and decreased distortion. Balanced armature drivers tend to perform best in the mid and high frequencies, generally producing cleaner, more well-defined notes than dynamic drivers.

Newer, more expensive earphones tend to feature balanced armature drivers, and sometimes quite a few of them; our pick for Best High-End Earphone, the Shure SE846, utilizes four balanced armature drivers per side. Some modern earphones, like the K3003i, feature a hybrid design, using a dynamic driver to handle the bass frequencies and incorporating balanced armatures for mid and high frequencies.

These earphones have been hand-picked as the best value for money and overall performance; I feel confident that anyone following the buying guidelines above and taking time to carefully consider their choice will be very satisfied with their purchase.

Compare The Best Earbuds Of 2021

Apple AirPods Pro - Best Earbuds Overall

The Apple Airpods Pro features Apple’s latest H1 chip that supports Bluetooth 5.0 and makes the transition between Apple devices while listening to audio seamless. Like the best earbuds out there, the Apple Airpods Pro has a noise cancellation feature that gives users an immersive listening experience by blocking out unwanted sounds. This earbud, however, goes a step further with a transparency mode where you can allow the sounds from the surroundings to filter through. Users are ultimately in control of how much they hear with the Apple Airpods Pro.

The earbud offers over 4 hours of listening time after a full charge. It comes with a mobile charging case that doubles as a carrying case. The charging case has an LED light in front of it. The LED light allows users to keep track of the charging progress. The charging case can charge the earbuds multiple times. A 24-hour listening time is guaranteed with the charging case.

Apple prioritizes users’ comfort; hence, the Airpods Pro comes with three sizes of silicone tips – small, medium, and large tips. Users simply select the size that gives them maximum comfort for the best listening experience. The earbud offers Apple users a faster and more private connection to Apple’s virtual assistant, Siri.

The earbud’s resistance to water and sweat makes them suitable for energy-intensive exercises and underwater dives.

Echo Buds (2nd Gen) Wireless Earbuds - Best New Option

The second-generation Echo Buds by Amazon provide a rich music listening experience combined with superb comfort and exceptional portability. The carrying case doubles as a high-capacity power bank for the earphones, providing up to three full recharges so you can listen to music all day. The unique innovative design features a vent that reduces in-ear pressure and a smaller nozzle, and the buds come with four ear tips and two wing tips of varying sizes, all ensuring superior wearing comfort.

The lightweight compact design of the new second-generation Echo Buds feels exceptionally comfortable in your ears. It provides a sealed fit and features active noise-cancelation, effectively blocking most ambient noise to deliver smooth audio. The buds are completely sweat-resistant so they are perfect for use during workouts. Also, they provide a long-lasting five-hour playback time on a single charge, although the carrying case also packs another fifteen hours worth of battery power whereby a quick 15-minute recharge can provide music playback time of up to two hours. The buds are readily compatible with Alexa and work just as well with other digital assistants too like Google Assistant and Siri. The integrated microphone allows you to control the connected device through voice-activated commands, although the mic can be muted to ensure complete privacy without disrupting the functionality of the active noise-cancelling feature.

Treblab X3 Pro Wireless Earbuds - Best Sweatproof

The X3 Pro premium true wireless athletic earbuds are designed for those who are always on the move. Treblab created the X3 Pro with the goal of integrating as many functions as possible into a tiny package while yet providing a secure, comfortable fit and Hi-Fi stereo sound quality. The X3 Pro Bluetooth earbuds with a mic include a built-in cVc 8.0 microphone. With 11mm Hi-Fi dual speakers that feature a vast volume range and balanced sound, the X3 Pro wireless gym headphones deliver orchestral sound. The X3 Pro water-resistant earbuds are water-resistant to IPX7 standards and feature secure-fit ear hooks that keep them in place even if you're at the gymnasium or outside. Each earpiece on the X3 Pro wireless earbuds has a double function button that can be used to answer calls hands-free or switch the song.

The Qualcomm QCC Chipset with aptX ensures that you remain connected during your workout with the X3 Pro wireless sport headphones, which offer a 33-foot Bluetooth 5.0 signal range. Intense sportsmen may push themselves for longer with the X3 Pro wireless Bluetooth headphones, which can last up to 9 hours on a single charge. They also come with a handy charging case. With three different-sized silicone tips that help block noise, the X3 Pro Bluetooth earphones for running may fit comfortably and securely in your ear.

Bowers & Wilkins PI5 True Wireless Earbuds - Best Sound Quality

Bowers & Wilkins, an English premium audio company, has dipped their toes into the wireless earbud market. With a host of premium features such as active noise-cancelation (ANC), 4 microphones for great call quality, and 9.2mm dynamic drivers, the PI5s don’t skimp out. Their round design is a departure from the water drop Apple Airpods and jellybean Skullcandys and come in your choice of charcoal or white colors. Support for Android and iOS are onboard as well as Bluetooth 5.0 and Qualcomm’s aptX to ensure you get great connectivity and audio quality.

Staying in line with Bowers & Wilkins' reputation, the PI5s absolutely deliver on sound quality. There's plenty of detail present throughout, but some of our reviewers felt that the fidelity is skewed slightly too bass-centric with the highs and mids being more muffled and lacking crispness. Unfortunately, there are no EQ adjustments. When listening to pop and hip-hop music though, they are a suitable partner.

The ANC does a good job of blocking out lower frequency sounds such as the droning of an airplane or highway noise, but tends to get hung up in more complicated environments like a busy coffee bar. Battery life is on par with the competition, netting you approximately 24 hours of listening when charging with the case. If you plan on taking these to the gym or for a run, you might want to think twice. They are rated at IP54 which blocks out dust but not so great for water resistance. Comfort is a high point; these earbuds are relatively lightweight, and can be worn for many hours without fatigue. B&W includes 3 different sizes of tips so you can find the perfect fit.

With a premium feel and great audio connectivity and quality, the Bowers & Wilkins PI5s should be considered if you are not tethered to the Apple ecosystem and are a fan of the PI5’s shape and overall quality.

AIRPRO Wireless Earbud - Also Consider

Airpro wireless earbuds feature the latest Airoha 1536 Chipset with Bluetooth 5.0 technology. They are fast with a stable signal, built-in microphone, and transmission of up to 50 feet. The buds easily pair with iPhone, Samsung, and other android devices.

The earbuds offer 6 hrs playtime per charge and up to 5 charges per case battery. This allows for 36 hours of pure listening enjoyment. The buds are designed to stay in place during movement, making them perfect for running, aerobics, yoga, and other workouts. The specialized IPX5 sweatproof protection prevents damage by rain or sweat.

These wireless earbuds come in a lightweight charging case with a handy LED display providing accurate charging info. This allows you to know exactly how much charge is left during any mode: share, stereo, or solo.

The Bluetooth algorithm cancels background noise or wind, providing clear hands-free calls. With overall excellent sound quality, they are ideal for anyone on the move whether listening to high-energy workout music or audiobooks. There is, however, no bass boost feature which makes it incomparable with quality overhead earphones. The volume setting ratio allows little room for small volume adjustments to get it exactly at the desired volume. You may have to settle for something just slightly too loud or too soft.

The Airpro comes with a USB-C to USB-A cable for charging. For faster charging times it is best to use a USB-C to USB-C cable. If you register your product according to the indicated instructions online you will receive a 5-year warranty on the product.

Skullcandy Sesh Evo Wireless Earbud - Consider

The Skullcandy earbud is an in-ear earbud that fits snuggly into the pinnae. The earbud connects wirelessly to devices and supports iOS and Android and can be used to make and receive calls without touching the phone. The earbuds are lightweight and suitable for use during exercises and gym workouts. The earbuds automatically pair the first time they are switched on. Subsequently, they automatically connect with the last paired device if it is within distance.

The earbud has a noise isolation feature for reducing the level of noise during use. It can be used in solo mode, where only one of the earbuds connects to a device. This feature offers more flexibility and allows users to be more aware of their surroundings during use. With the Skullcandy earbud, users can choose between three EQ modes for movies, music, and podcasts. The earbud has a fast charge feature and offers five hours of listening time after a full charge. The charging case offers an additional 19 hours for a total of 24 hours of listening time.

The Skullcandy earbud has an IP55 certification that certifies that it is resistant to water, sweat, and dust. The earbud is available in different colors and can thus serve as a fashion item apart from its primary use. The earbud has a built-in tile technology so that it can be easily located if it ever gets missing.

Lasuney IPX7 Waterproof Wireless Earbuds - Consider

The Lasuney earbud is a wireless Bluetooth earbud with a sleek design. The earbud supports Android and iOS devices. The earbud’s Bluetooth 5.0 technology makes a connection to other devices fast and seamless. After the initial connection, the earbud automatically connects to known devices for subsequent use.

The earbud can be used in single or binaural mode. Users can decide the best mode that suits their needs at any given time. The earbud’s full range of functionality can be accessed with a single button. The button allows users to control music volume, switch between songs, receive and end calls, and play and pause music. The earbud’s ergonomic design makes it suitable for use under different circumstances. It can be used while driving, commuting, exercising, or working at the desk. It is wireless and will not affect your concentration or clutter up space in any of these situations.

The earbud’s fast charging and long battery life are its most unique selling points. The earbud uses a type-C USB charger. It completes a full charge within an hour. After a full charge, the earbud lasts up to five hours. The earbud comes with a charging case the size of a key that can be easily carried around. With the charging case, the earbud can offer up to 30 hours of listening time. The Lasuney earbud is IPX7 compliant and thus resistant to water and moisture.

Buyer's Guide

For certain music lovers, over-the-ear headphones are not the first and favorite option because of their bulkiness and the inconvenience that comes with handling them. As a result of this, earbuds have become the next viable and easy choice. Not only are they much sleeker, making them a less conspicuous body accessory, but they are also less heavy and cumbersome which makes them easier to carry around.

Earbuds are literally suitable for anyone, whether you are a sports person who likes to take an early morning run with loud music blasting in your ears, or you are always seated at a desk in the office, clacking off at a keyboard and you need something extra to spice up your day.

The process of getting a decent set of earbuds can be a tricky, dissatisfying one if you possess no prior knowledge of what functions to look out for and how much money you should be ready to spare on any particular piece. This buying guide has been compiled with the main aim of helping you choose the right earbuds for yourself.

What are the Types of Earbuds?

A lot of people get confused when words like headphones, earphones, earbuds are mentioned. Here is a breakdown:


All audio devices that are used around the ear come with earphones. Earphones are the parts of the device that contain the speakers and are designed to transport sound into the ears. They are either styled to cover your ears or are inserted into the ear canal.


Headphones are devices whose earphones are linked together by a band that rests on the head. They are large and completely different in design from earbuds.


Earbuds are designed to fit directly into your ears. They are lighter than headphones and are much more portable. They could come as either wired, wireless, or wire-free.

What Should I Look Out for When Buying Earbuds?


The whole purpose of an earbud over a headphone is forfeited if it isn’t light and sleek enough to be carried around comfortably.

Secure and Comfortable In-Ear Fit

When shopping for an earbud, make sure that the earphones have a firm, non-slip, and comfortable in-ear fit to help maximize the experience. They should come with a soft lining made from a material like silicone.

Strong Audio Performance

Ensure that whatever brand of the earbud you are going for has a track record of producing high-quality devices with clear sound output. You can confirm by reading through reviews on the product before purchasing.


It is very important for your earbud to be water or splash-resistant, especially if you get involved in sports activities a lot. This reduces the risk of damage caused by moisture and wetness.

Good Battery Life

A wireless earbud that has poor battery performance will potentially create a poor overall experience. Who wants earbuds that need constant charging when used?

Silicon or Foam Tips

These are much more comfortable and give a much better sound output than earphones with plastic or rubber covers.

Wired vs. Wireless vs. Wire-free Earbuds; Which is Best for You?

Earbuds come in two forms: those with wires and those without. Wired earbuds are made to connect physically to your phone or music device through an aux cable while wireless earphones are connected via Bluetooth. However, the fact that wireless earbuds require a wireless connection does not mean that they do not come with wires. Some of them come with wires that link the earphones together.

Earbuds that come with no wires linking both earphones to each other are called true wireless earbuds. They stand alone, separate from each other, and are usually individually designed to fit into either the left or the right ear.

Here are a couple of points that highlight the differences between all three and will help you come to a decision:


Generally, wireless and wire-free earbuds are more convenient than wired earbuds because there are no obstructions and inconveniences caused by the dangling wires.


Getting a wired earbud means that you never have to worry about getting it charged for use. Wireless and wire-free earphones, on the other hand, need battery power to work. The implication of this is that once they run out of power, the earbuds cease to function.


Although wireless earbuds last a longer time than wired earbuds, wire-free earbuds last the longest of them all. This is because wires are subject to wear and tear and can be easily damaged during your day-to-day activities. However, with wire-free earphones, the chances of them getting damaged are way slimmer.

Battery Life

This is only applicable to wireless and wire-free earbuds. A lot of wire-free earbuds still come with bugs that affect battery life and sound output. Generally, wireless earbuds are a safer choice when it comes to battery life.


Wire-free earbuds are generally more expensive than their wireless counterparts, and those, in turn, are usually more expensive than wired ones. This is because wire-free and wireless earbuds are made with a higher level of technology (Bluetooth), and also come packaged with a charging accessory.

Price Ranges for Earbuds

The prices differ based on the type of earbud you are looking to get, and the features that it comes with. Wired earbuds come at an average price range of $8 to $20 dollars, while wireless, which are more expensive, have an average price range of $20 to $35, with the expensive ones going for $50 and above. Finally, wire-free earbuds, which are the most expensive have an average cost of $45 to $100, with the expensive, high-quality ones going for well above $150. Keep in mind that these are all general ranges. It's entirely possible to find premium wired earbuds priced at well over $200; conversely, some lower-quality wireless models might look enticing at less than $30, but their performance (or lack thereof) will almost always disappoint you.


Q: Can I sleep with my earbuds?

Yes, you can definitely go to bed with your earbuds, but it is most advisable that they are wire-free, to prevent any tangles that could lead to damage.

Q: How long do earbuds usually last?

Depending on their quality and how often they are used, earbuds should last between three to six months. Note that this is not a hard and fast rule - if you take good care of them, there's no reason why your earbuds can't provide you with years of reliable service.

Q: How long can a fully charged case charge my earbuds?

A fully charged case should charge your earbuds at least three times, and at most, five times.

bestcovery team.jpg
Our research team searches out the best of everything so that you can confidently pick the perfect products and services for your needs.
Related Content
Go to top