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If the only place you buy your wired earbuds is the checkout line at a drugstore, you probably think they’re all shoddy, sound bad and are practically disposable. But the best wired earbuds are built to keep up with wireless earbuds and even headphones. Besides affordability, there are several key benefits to owning a pair of wired earbuds that set them apart from their wireless counterparts, including being harder to lose, not requiring charging and, yes, better sound. Some of the audio information gets lost in even the best Bluetooth headphones, but the analog signal of wired earbuds allows for a higher-quality listening experience.
The main drawback with wired earbuds is tangling, and the wires tend to get damaged and worn out over time. That’s why, when looking for the best wired earbuds, we sought out high-quality pairs with durable, tangle-resistant cables. We also looked for ergonomically designed buds so that they’ll be comfortable in most ears.
We have found through years of testing and owning various wired earbuds that the sound varies tremendously from one pair to the next based on the drivers included and their impedance. Therefore, we have only included wired earbuds with the very latest technology, suitable to the sound quality you’re used to today.
We’ve rounded up some of the best wired earbuds that you can buy online. Keep reading to find out more about the pros and cons of each, before choosing the best wired earbuds for your needs.
1. Etymotic Research ER2XR Extended Response High Performance In-Ear Earphones
What’s killed every set of wired headphones you’ve ever owned? The wire frays. Not so with the Etymotic Research ER2XRs: The metal earbuds detach from the wires, which can be replaced. That alone would put it high on the list, but they’re also really good earbuds. The enhanced bass is super solid, and while they do not have Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), they do isolate up to 35dB of external noise. The triple-cone gel tips make for a snug, comfortable fit.
Etymotic Research ER2XR Extended Response High Performance In-Ear Earphones
2. Sony MDREX15AP In-Ear Earbuds
Sony makes some of the best audio gear for the money, and these classic earbuds are a great option. They have a squishy silicone tip designed to fit in ears of different sizes, and there’s a convenient microphone, making it a great option for calls. There’s also a version without a mic. The 9mm dome-type drivers are designed for a quality listening experience.
3. Apple EarPods
Remember those silhouette commercials for the iPod from the mid-2000s? Apple’s earbuds are iconic for a reason, and they’re still a great option for basic music listening. The egg-shaped design is meant to be more comfortable in the ear, and they have the standard 3.5 mm jack. If your phone doesn’t have a jack, these earbuds are available with a lightning connector.
4. JVC Earclip Earbud
JVC’s earbuds are great options if you’re looking for something secure for running, working out or just walking around. The ear clip design ensures they won’t fall even if they pop out of your ear, and they’re designed to resist sweat, so they’ll keep up with your workouts. There are three earpieces included, so you can find the one that’s most comfortable for you.
5. Rayleigh Wired Earbuds 5 Pack
One of the worst things about headphones is how easy they are to lose, so it’s always a good idea to buy a multi-pack like the Raleigh Wired Earbuds. This five-pack comes in a variety of attractive colors. The earbuds themselves boast a high-quality membrane, providing stereo-quality sound. If you don’t need five pairs of earbuds, share them with your friends and family.
6. JBL Endurance RUN
BEST FOR EXERCISE
The JBL Run is a flexible and versatile option for working out or casual wear. The unique shape of the buds allows them to be worn in the ear like regular buds, or you can run the cables behind your ear and wear them like sport buds. Two earbud sizes are included. The inline controls and built-in mic make it easy to take calls.
7. 1MORE Quad Driver in-Ear Earphones
BEST SOUND QUALITY
1MORE is a brand that tends to fly under the radar, and we can’t figure out why because they’ve been making earbuds and earphones known for truly high-end sound engineered by Grammy Award-winning sound engineer Luca Bignardi. This model has four drivers to deliver super crisp, wildly accurate sound, with spacious reproduction that brings more of the sound of a concert hall and not a club. They also come with luxury-level gift packaging including nine sets of ear tips and a faux leather traveling case. Classy earbuds, amazing sound, solid recommendation.
8. ULIX Rider Earbuds
BEST SOUND QUALITY (BUDGET)
For true music lovers, you can’t beat the ULIX Rider Earbuds. The company designed these headphones to provide a “natural and realistic listening experience.” That’s why they developed tiny speakers with an impedance of 48 Ω. This means this product provides some of the best bass and crystal-clear sounds available in wired earbuds. But ULIX didn’t stop there. They also developed a metal casing for the earbuds that is not only attractive but enhances the sound performance. And the company provides 24/7 customer support.
9. Sony MDRXB55AP Wired Extra Bass Earbuds
Sony’s MDRXB55AP earbuds come with “extra bass” in their name, and they mean it. The 12mm neodymium driver units give you truly powerful bass but free from distortion, and the Powered Bass Duct++ technology gives you EXTRA BASS (yes, in all caps) for all of the molar-rattling, club-level oons oons oons you could want. On top of that, they come in three colors, have an inline remote and mic for hands-free calling, four different sizes of tips and ring in at under $50.
10. Shure SE425-CL Sound Isolating Wired Earbuds
Shure is a known and trusted name among audiophiles, podcasters and anyone who wants and relies on clear sound. The SE425-CL Sound Isolating Wired Earbuds live up to the rep with Active Noise Cancellation and a dual high-def driver giving you an amazing range of pristine sound, and the over-the-ear design combined with detachable buds and three sizes of black foam sleeves ensure a great fit and fewer intrusive cables. On top of that? They look awesome. The clear buds and cables and the gold-plated connector give the Shure SE425-CLs a futuristic vibe we can’t look away from.
11. Sennheiser CX 300S In-Ear Headphone With One-Button Smart Remote
The Sennheiser CX300S buds bring you Sennheiser’s precise German engineering and no-nonsense design for a very reasonable $50. Two ergonomically pleasing buds, a one-button remote, detailed sound and enhanced bass are all you need in a set of wired earbuds.
Sennheiser CX 300S In Ear Headphone with One-Button Smart Remote
Consider This Before Buying Wired Earbuds
As with any headphones, there are a wide variety of styles and price points for wired earbuds. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before buying a pair.
- Check your dongle: It’s a given now that the 3.5mm headphone input is gone forever from smartphones. But check your laptop or tablet, because they’re vanishing there as well. Adapter dongles are plentiful and inexpensive, but be thorough in your research to see if you need one and, if so, which kind.
- Am I saving money by going wired? In most cases, but you can also quickly find yourself shelling out as much on wired earbuds as you would on wireless. What you will find are way more inexpensive wired earbuds than wireless ones, which is great for stashing spare pairs in places like your gym bag or car. But count on those having a short shelf life. Wired earbuds are like anything else: You get what you pay for. Invest in a really good pair and a couple of cheapo spares to stash.
- Do wired earbuds sound better than wireless? In other words, is there a retro sort of “older sounds better” thing like with vinyl records? No, but there is a school of thought among audiophiles that Bluetooth sound is lower resolution and sounds flatter compared to wired headphones or earbuds.
- Is there any noise-canceling difference between wired and wireless? No. Active noise canceling (ANC) works just as well with wired headphones as with wireless ones, so if you’re looking for good noise-canceling wired earbuds, make sure they have ANC.
Updates: This review was last updated on June 27, 2022, at which time we added additional product photos and new Things to Consider Before Buying Wired Earbuds. We added the Etymotic Research ER2XR Extended Response High Performance In-Ear Earphones as our Best Overall and moved the Sony MDREX15AP In-Ear Earbuds to Runner Up based on the Etymotic Research’s replaceable cables and overall quality. We added the 1MORE Quad Driver in-Ear Earphones as Best Sound Quality and moved the ULIX Rider Earbuds to Best Sound Quality (Budget), and removed the Samsung EO-EG920LLEGUS Active InEar Headphones (Most Versatile) since they are not currently available. We replaced the Sony MDRXB50AP Extra Bass Earbud Headphones as Best Bass with the updated Sony MDRXB55AP Wired Extra Bass Earbuds model, added the Shure SE 425-CL as Best Splurge to replace the Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones which are not currently available, and added the Sennheiser CX 300S In-Ear Headphone with One-Button Smart Remote as an Also Consider.