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In-ear headphones, which are also known as in-ear monitors (IEMs) or canal phones, are just like small headphones, as portable as earphones inserted into the ear canal itself. An IEM is a high-quality in-ear headphone used by audio engineers, sound engineers, and even musicians.

The outer shell of in-ear headphones is made up of a variety of materials, including plastic, aluminum, ceramic, and other metal alloys. The in-ear headphones engage the ear canal to block out ambient noise easily.

Check Out Our Awesome Wired and Wireless In-Ear Collection

Wired earphones (2)

wireless earphones

Lack of ambient noise can be a problem if noise is a necessary signal for safety or for other reasons, such as walking, driving, crossing a road, or just being in the outside world. Some in-ear headphones use a built-in microphone to listen to external noise as needed.

Like good jeans, it is hard to find a good pair of earplugs, and once you get the Holy Grail, you will never want to let go.

No matter what you ask for in the next few years, this guide should streamline your research process—athletes, audiophiles, commuters, etc. Get together and see what makes the best earphone kit for you.

What Kind Of In-Ear Earphones Do You Want?

Kind of in-ears you needKind of in-ears you need

Kind of in-ears you need

Like headphones and speakers, there are many different types of earphones. Your intended use is a compass that guides you through your shopping journey.

Wireless Earphones

top wireless in-ears

Top wireless in-ears

There are many reasons to hate Bluetooth audio, but many more reasons to love it. If you need a simple wireless solution for your daily commute, your search ends with a great pair of true wireless earphones.

Unlike traditional wireless earphones, true wireless earphones completely disconnect the cord. These in-ears usually come with a dedicated charging case, charging cable, and a few earphones. The standalone battery life averages 46 hours, but the case has one or more additional charge cycles.

True wireless technology has made rapid progress in the last few years. There are also some terrific true wireless active noise-canceling (ANC) earphones and more affordable picks that fit your budget.

However, genuine wireless earphones have one fatal flaw, i.e., small battery cells deteriorate so quickly that they won’t last longer than a few years. You will need wired headphones or earphones with replaceable cords for a long-term investment.

The Best Wireless Earphones

wireless in-ears

Wireless in-ears

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus and Galaxy Buds Pro are two sets of premium true wireless earphones with noise-canceling features. Both feature a comfortable, ergonomic design with waterproof construction, and the Pro model can withstand complete submersion.

The Galaxy Buds Plus is truly the best wireless headset for most people. It works seamlessly with Samsung devices and is generally OS-independent, except for features such as direct access to Spotify.

We recommend AirPods Pro or Beats Powerbeats Pro if you have an iPhone, which is the easiest to set up. Apple’s AirPods Pro has noise cancellation, spatial audio, and IPX4 ratings. The case supports Lightning and wireless charging and will pair with your smartphone when you open your earphones.

Athletes are usually attracted to Beats Powerbeats Pro because of their more stable ear-hook shape. If you are searching for a great pair of traditional wireless earphones to use when exercising, then Jaybird X4 is for you.

These earphones feature an IPX7 rating, a comfortable tip, and a well-defined control module. If you have an iPhone, get Beats Powerbeats. These are the same as Pro, but the wires connect the earphones.

Budgeted athletes should choose the Jabra Elite Active 45e. These earphones are IP67 rated and do not seal your ears. It may seem like a mistake, but I am always looking around.

Wired Earphones

wired earphones

Wired earphones

Congratulations to a few lucky people who still have a smartphone headphone jack. You can get wired earphones without using a dongle. Wired earphones are easy to get rid of but are an excellent option for everyone.

You can find better-wired earphones for consumers than Bluetooth ones, and you do not have to worry about battery or compatibility.

At least one pair of your favorite wired earphones (probably dongles) is a great backup option.

The Best Wired Earphones

top wired earphones

Top wired earphones

The best-wired option for the average consumer is the 1MORE Quad Driver In-ear earphones, which retail for just under your budget. In addition to the dynamic driver, each earphone has three balanced armature drivers.

Such an arrangement gives a clear tone with a slight bass kick. If you want the same design at a better price, get the 1MORE Triple Driver In-Ear Earphones.

If you need a solid pair of wired earphones with an excellent microphone, check out Beyerdynamic Soul Byrd. These earphones fit snugly on your ears and are a great companion to your bedtime podcast.

Wired playback is still essential for audio quality, and there are many special and expensive in-ear monitors (IEMs) to add to your wishlist. You need a wired connection to get the most out of lossless audio from music streaming services such as Amazon Music HD.

When it comes to high-definition audio products, there are plenty of snake oils. You do not have to spend a fortune on cables, DACs, or amplifiers to get a good sound. Wired in-ear monitors are not just for audiophiles. It is also suitable for people who want their earphones to last for years.

Virtually all IEMs include a removable cable (usually an MMCX or 2-pin connector) that makes it convenient to replace the cable if it frays or breaks, rather than looking for a brand-new set of earphones that are also suitable for the environment.

What Is The Difference Between Earphones And In-Ear Headphones?

wired vs wireless

Wired vs. wireless

First, earphones are headphones that are not designed to fit in the ear canal. Most models have no pads and are basically small plastic speakers located in the pinna (the space just outside the ear canal).

Most iPhone users are familiar with these types of headphones. Some models come with a loop to hang on your ears and hold them in place. On the other hand, in-ear headphones are specially designed to slip through the pinna and extend into the ear canal itself.

Extensions usually come with a silicon tip covering them and securing the headphones to your ears, but there are different sizes, shapes, and materials besides silicon. That is the picture most people imagine when someone mentions “earphones’’.

But as you can clearly see, there are differences. The headphone specs may be different if you want to be more technical, but leave them for another day. If you are searching for something that meets your audio needs, you may be wondering whether headphones or earphones are the right choices for you.

After all, what is the difference? Some people seem to serve the same purpose anyway. Whether you choose earphones or headphones, you tend to be overwhelmed by the plethora of brands and their products in terms of functionality and design.

Characteristics of In-ear Headphones

Noise Canceling

Noise Cancelling Feature

Noise Cancelling Feature

Noise-canceling is not as common in in-ear headphones as in over-ear headphones, but it is still available and may be a valuable feature for some users.

I won’t explain how noise-canceling technology works, but the basic idea is to block out external noise, which is much better than other headphones, as long as it is properly sealed.

Most travelers are advised to opt for decent, ambient noise-canceling headphones. Everyone else probably doesn’t necessarily need noise cancellation on their in-ear headphones.

Driver Types

Earphone drivers

Earphone drivers

In-ear headphones generally provide dynamic drivers, but some replace these active drivers with balanced armature drivers or, in some cases, planar magnetic drivers.

Dynamic drivers are fine for most users, but you need to find a driver with features such as a dual-balanced armature driver if you want good sound quality.

Planar magnetic in-ear headphones are rare, but the ones we tested sound great, so this might be something to check.

Most people recommend buying in-ear headphones with a dynamic driver, but a balanced armature driver can provide a slightly improved high-end if sound quality is essential.

Water Resistance

Waterproof Features

Waterproof Features

Water resistance usually has several different ratings. To get started, the headphones may have an IPX4 rating, which means that the headphones are drip-proof.

IPX5 means protected from splashes.

IPX6 means that the headphones are protected from strong water jets.

Last but not least, IPX7 means that the headphones can be completely submerged in water for about 30 minutes at up to 1 meter depth.

It is not recommended to swim with IPX7 headphones, but dropping them in the pool is okay. However, some headphones are specially designed for swimming. So, if that is important, you will have to look for them specifically.

Most people do not need specially designed waterproof headphones, but those planning to use headphones for sports may want to look for them.  

Frequency Range 

Frequency range

Frequency range

The frequency range of headphones basically determines the range in which the headphones can be played.

The only problem is that most headphone manufacturers only label their headphones within the audible range of humans, i.e., 20 Hz to 20 kHz. We do not recommend purchasing headphones due to the wide frequency range. Instead of this, check out the reviews to see how your headphones sound.

Pros And Cons

What Are the Benefits of In-Ear Headphones?

In-ear benefits

In-ear benefits

One of the most significant advantages of in-ear headphones is portability. They fit in your pocket or purse and have space to save. In-ear headphones are less disturbing than one-ear or over-ear headphones and offer high quality at an affordable price.

Most high-end brands today come with some hard cases that are hard to break and easy to store, so you’ll have to squeeze them or dig wires to get your wallet or backpack.

When it comes to sound quality, you obviously don’t get the big driver and rich sound you’d expect from over-ear headphones, but in-ear headphones aren’t lacking in influence. Some high-end models have a frequency response of about 5-40,000 Hz, which does not make your ears hungry and improves quality when you hear the bass.

Comfort is another advantage of In-Ear headphones. They are generally large but lightweight, and most models come with a variety of strips, loops, and pads to fit almost every ear.

In addition to those larger sizes, some larger drivers give you pretty good sound quality. Add the feature to make phone calls to this, and you get a really powerful companion for your daily life.

Portability isn’t an issue with earphones, as some models have necklace-style cords and magnets for easy, unobtrusive access around the neck. Since the headphones are in the ear canal, noise isolation is splendid.

Some brands offer custom-fit earphones that fit snugly and snugly to your ears after the last mile or the last set in the gym. These have an in-ear structure technically, but don’t be confused with a much more advanced (and more expensive) in-ear monitor inside, especially for musicians.

What Are the Drawbacks of In-Ear Headphones?

In-ear cons

In-ear cons

Combining good and bad is a part of life, and in-ear headphones also have a role to play. It’s okay to block your ears in the gym or library, but it can quickly become a dangerous attempt on the street.

Not everyone is happy that something is stuck in their ears, and sometimes they slip off and leave you with that “water in your ears’’ sensation like them. The midrange is also a minor issue with in-ear headphones.

Bass and treble are good, but you can miss parts of the complex midrange, which can diminish your listening experience. For wired models, it’s great to hide in your clothes, but when the cable rubs against you or your shirt, the sound goes directly to your headphones. In-the-ear headphones may cause hearing loss.

Therefore, the relationship between earphones and deafness depends on the volume and the amount of time you listen to them. After pulling out the earphones, you may hear ringing or other sounds.

If this persists for a really long time, it may be another condition called tinnitus. If you don’t clean it regularly, placing earplugs directly in the ear canal can help bacteria get into your ears.

Earplugs also block the passage of air through the ear, allowing bacteria to continue to grow. In summary, these factors are at risk of bacterial infection of the more sensitive parts of the ear.

If the earphones are misplaced or not the right size, you may experience ear pain. This pain can also spread to nearby areas such as the inner ear, jaw, and head. Very loud noises from the surroundings can hurt your ears. However, noise-canceling headphones can reduce or suppress their harmful background noise.


It is time for questions! Yes, we know that you may have a lot of queries after going through the details. We have brought a set of the most generally asked questions for you below. Have a read!

Which earbuds are for me if I am a frequent traveler?

Travel use

Travel use

If you commute or frequently fly, save on noise-canceling earphones. Noise-canceling earphones are expensive, but frequent flyers and daily commuters know the value of a quiet ride.

ANC earphones come in a variety of shapes, from neckbones to genuine wireless earphones. Unfortunately, effective noise cancellation technology is not a must at a low price.

If you really want to hear the difference when you’re on the morning train, be prepared to let go for a little higher side of your budget Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 provides optimal noise cancellation for a pair of fully wireless in-ear and also offers excellent sound.

Listeners who want to monitor their earphones unplugged should check out the Sony WI1000XM2 or 1MORE dual-driver ANC Pro for a cheaper option. The Bose QuietComfort 20 is the best overall pair of wired noise-canceling earphones and fits very well.

Do wireless earphones have a mobile app?

Most consumer wireless audio products come with free apps to enhance your listening experience. Typically, these apps allow you to choose from numerous EQ presets (or create your own), find earphones, and switch source devices.

The biggest reason to invest in a pair of Bluetooth earphones with a mobile app is access to firmware and software updates. These can extend the life of the product by adding the latest features entirely.

What is better than using a dynamic or balanced armature driver?

All inner house drivers carry sound from the source device to the eardrum to make things easier. However, not all earphones use the same driver. Most earphones and headphones use dynamic drivers.

Dynamic drivers are the cheapest and most robust, but some use balanced armature drivers or more sophisticated planar magnetic drivers. You can learn more about the details, but all you need to know is that the dynamic driver just fills the housing of cheap earphones and expensive earphones alike, and it’s affordable with a planar magnetic screwdriver.

It means that you will never find a pair of earphones. The balanced armature driver is used in combination with a dynamic driver to reproduce natural bass and accurate, clear treble.

Can I share my headphones?

sharing earphones

sharing earphones

No, avoid it. Knowing who you are sharing your headphones with does not precisely tell you how hygienic they are.

Or you may have introduced bacteria into your ears. Contaminated wax can adhere to the headphones. Using earphones doubles the risk of getting directly into the ear canal. Besides bacteria, you can also share yeast and other pathogens.

Earphones or Headphones: Which Is More Harmful?

which is more harmful

which is more harmful

Earphones amplify specific frequencies more than headphones when it comes to sound, which can be a problem. In addition, earplugs push earwax back into the ear canal, preventing natural cleaning. As a result, the ear canal becomes a convenient place for bacteria that cause infections.

What do product measurements mean?

in-ear specs

In-ear specs

In general, it’s a good idea to ignore most of the specifications listed for headphones. It may sound a little strange, and it can be challenging to choose headphones without anything, but the crucial product information is whether the headphones are around or above the ears, open or closed, or heavy.

Only details such as cord length (or range for wireless), earpad type, and possibly impedance/efficiency matter the most. It is a common misconception that the wider the frequency response, the better the sound of the headphones.

Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. Some models have the same frequency response, but the sounds are entirely different, making product selection difficult. For example, one headphone may report a frequency response of 532,000 Hz, and another may report 535,000 Hz.

It can be inferred from this measurement that both have deep bass, but one is higher end. In reality, the two headphones may not sound the same. One of the useful technical measurements is impedance.

In general, the higher the impedance, the harder it is to drive the headphones. However, there are very efficient high-impedance headphones and very inefficient low-impedance headphones.


We hope you know what you were looking for, and this article could really help you clear out the confusion you have about in-ear headphones.

No one is born a tech expert, and it is normal to face such situations where you need guidance, and our experts have formulated the correct facts for you in a way that is easy to comprehend, even for a layman.

Good luck with your buying, and we hope you find the perfect pair of headsets that you are looking for because it is the only thing that matters in the end for us. Feel free to drop more questions if you wish to ask them.

Take care!

About the Author


Rach Wellard

Rach Wellard is the driving force behind Sound & Solitude. Her mission is to help you discover the profound impact of sound in your daily life and to explore the beauty of solitude. With a deep passion for the connection between soundscapes and emotions, she brings a unique blend of expertise and personal dedication to our platform.

Rach understands that every individual's auditory journey is unique, and she’s here to guide you every step of the way. As a devoted audiophile, Rach’s discerning ear carefully selects the most exceptional products that align with your desires for Sound or Solitude. In a world filled with noise and chaos, Sound & Solitude serves as your sanctuary.

Rach’s journey as an autistic individual with a heightened sensitivity to sound fuels our commitment to creating an inclusive space where everyone can find solace while enjoying the meaningful sounds in their lives. Her understanding of diverse sensory needs enables us to offer personalized recommendations and insights, ensuring that your chosen audio equipment not only meets technical criteria but also resonates with your unique sensory preferences. And if you simply seek the best sound possible, Rach has you covered.

At Sound & Solitude, authenticity is our foundation. We provide unbiased reviews and comparisons because you deserve nothing but the truth. Our reviews are meticulously crafted, drawing upon Rach’s deep understanding of audio technology and the human experience in the Sound and Solitude realms. Whether you're searching for noise-cancelling headphones to immerse yourself in music or seeking a gaming headset that transports you to virtual worlds, you can rely on our reviews and personally tested comparisons to find the best equipment for your specific needs. Explore our carefully curated content, from the latest wireless audio advancements to tips for creating your ideal auditory retreat.

Let Sound & Solitude be your companion in your quest for perfect sound, rich experiences, and beautiful serenity. Join Rach as she redefines the way you listen, connecting you to the power of Sound and the Solitude it brings. Together, we'll evolve into your trusted platform for all things related to Sound & Solitude.

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