Need some new in-ears? We’ve reviewed the top rated pairs selling for £50 or less* in September 2021.
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*prices and images updated within the last 24 hours (via Amazon API) and may exclude delivery costs.
How to Choose a Pair of In-Ear Headphones
The way in which we listen to music and other audio has always been changing. While there is still very much a market for bigger, on-ear headphones and other varieties, earbuds and earphones have emerged in recent years as the more convenient option for listening on the go. But what benefits do these headphones have over their contemporaries? The differences lie in more than just the outward design.
In this guide, we’ll be looking closely at in-ear headphones and earphones – and considering which options and features you are going to need to bear in mind when it comes to making the right purchase. There are plenty of choices out there – so it’s best to be clear on what you need!
What Are In-Ear Headphones?
In-ear headphones are otherwise known as earphones or earbuds. This term for them is widely used across the audio industry and in marketing, but don’t get confused! They all often refer to the same product, which should save you some time and concern when it comes to making the right purchase for you.
In-ear headphones, or earphones, sit either outside the ear canal or snugly inside. Think of them as mini speakers that play audio directly into your ears. Unlike over-ear or on-ear headphones, these models can be preferential for a number of different reasons:
• They are extremely easy to carry around – they’re lightweight and easy to pop in and out
• They are likely to be very comfortable for many listeners – you won’t get any of the headaches or strains you could get from prolonged wearing of clunkier headphone units and systems.
• Many people may also advise that the access to sound is simply better – it’s piped directly into your ears, and therefore, you get a greater sense of clarity.
• Modern earphones come with a variety of different technology tweaks and features. We’ll be looking at these in a little more detail further down in our guide.
• They are often less expensive than many bigger headphone units and systems. This is because there is often less in the way of features packed in – though this can vary from unit to unit.
In a world where many of us are listening to audio and music on our smartphone more so than any other device, it makes sense to have a more portable listening solution to hand. Therefore, it’s hardly surprising why so many people still flock to earphones over clunkier models.
But with so many different in-ear headphones and earphones out there to choose from, how do you know you’re making the right choice?
What Features are Available?
While it may be understandable to think that earphones are perhaps less capable than wired headphones and more advanced technology on the market, you may well be mistaken. There are all kinds of different earphones and earphone tech available to buy online and offline. Consider, for example, some of the most popular in-ear headphones of the modern age – the Apple Air Pods – which are seen to be something of the pinnacle of in-ear listening these days!
Regardless, let’s take a look at some of the features you may wish to look for when shopping for earphones and earbuds.
Wired or Wireless Connectivity
Not all earphones are connected by cables these days. There are plenty of different wireless in-ear headphones available on the market right now, though you will need to make sure you find a reputable brand and have enough money to hand to be able to afford them. That being said, the market for wireless earbuds and earphones is opening up massively, with simple Bluetooth connectivity being very easy to come by and more affordable to produce and purchase.
You should also consider what is known as ‘true’ wireless. This is where there are no cables involved whatsoever. You may find that there are still some wireless earphone brands on the market which have a cable system or external pack attached. For many listeners, this may still be considered fairly awkward with day to day listening! Look for ‘true’ wireless to banish the cables for good. It means more flexibility for your listening.
That’s not to say that wired earphones aren’t worth buying – as they can give you greater security. There’s less chance of you losing wired headphones as they can be easily attached to bags, items of clothing and more.
Earphones or in-ear headphones are designed to be discreet on the eye, so why shouldn’t they be discreet in the ear, too? Noise cancelling earphones will give you greater access to private listening, meaning that the noises of everyday life are effectively banished from your soundscape. That means the tech involved will allow your ears to focus on the audio that matters to you.
Earphones supporting noise reduction and cancellation are a great idea if you need to use them for work, or when you are concentrating and don’t want to be disturbed. It’s not just the full-size headphones and other units which carry this amazing technology!
Comfort and Style
There are many different types of in-ear headphones, earphones and earbuds out there. We’re referring to their physical shape – as there are some models which will sit just outside your ear, while others will pop inside for a snug fit.
Not everyone likes the popular ‘bulb’ shape – which is where earphones are popped directly into your ear canals. Some can find this to be too snug a fit. In which case, the next best option is standard earphone units, which are like the mini speakers we discussed above. These are less intrusive, but some users may not feel they offer great enough access to audio.
It’s therefore always worth looking at the physical construction of your earphones before you buy. Everyone has different comfort levels, and there are no right or wrong ways when it comes to picking an earphone or earbud design.
Yes, there are now plenty of earphones and in-ear headphones that come with waterproofing as standard. This means you can now easily listen to your audio in the shower, or even while swimming! However, do be sure to check the level of water immersion supported by each model – as this can vary, and it will mean you don’t put your new purchased at any kind of risk of breakage!
As always, there are a few more things you’ll need to bear in mind when it comes to buying a pair of in-ear headphone, earphones or earbuds. Here are some answers to some of the bigger questions being asked by regular wearers.
How Much Should I Pay for In-Ear Headphones?
This, of course, all depends on the features you are looking for. It will also depend on the brand you prefer! You can easily pick up a simple pair of earphones which will offer basic audio for less than £10. However, when it comes to added durability, and additional features such as wireless connectivity, waterproofing, carry cases and more, you may wish to spend upwards of £50-£100. Some models can stretch into the hundreds – so do weigh up which features are most important to you right now.
Why Should I Choose In-Ear Headphones?
Many people find earphones a more comfortable fit! Moreover, they are vastly preferred by those who run or exercise regularly. Bigger headphones can get irritating during intensive exercise due to their weight and shape. Earphones are lightweight and simple to handle. They can be easily popped in and out from workout to workout, and shouldn’t cause you too much hassle whatever you may be doing.
Are In-Ear Headphones Better Than Other Headphones?
Not necessarily! The jury is still out on whether or not traditional over-ear headphones have more features or provide greater access to audio. Largely, this will depend on your own comfort levels and what you value in the listening experience. Everyone is different in this regard. Some people don’t like in-ear headphones earphones as they may find them flimsier than more robust models. That’s understandable – but again, your tastes may vary in this regard.
What Features Do I Need?
Think carefully about what you want from your new headphones. If you’re unlikely to make use of your earbuds or headphones in the rain or in the water, there’s little need for you to go all out and look for waterproof models. What’s more, if the idea of wireless earphones doesn’t appeal to you (as you may find them too easy to lose), there’s no need to buy into the tech. Don’t always be swayed by marketing! Make a list of everything you need and find a model or brand that caters to all your bases.
Which Brands are Best?
There’s no right or wrong answer here! While we think it’s safer to look for a brand or manufacturer you know and trust, the best thing to do is read user reviews to see what others are saying. Ultimately, try some models out, and trust your gut – you don’t have to buy Apple Air Pods just because they’re trendy!