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what are the best in-ear costers?

The best in-ear

Formerly reserved primarily for athletes, in-ear headphones widen their horizons and are gaining new followers today. We choose them for their great insulation, their excellent maintenance and their appearance compact and discreet. Amazing phenomenon, all these cutters have gained functionality while preserving their minimalist design. High audio quality, resistance to perspiration and rain, active noise reduction They move in all directions. Editing Toms Guide helps you see more clearly and choose the right cutters for you.

Image 1: Comparison: what are the best in-ear headphones?

Check out our guide to buying headphones

As with any high-tech accessory, not all in-ear headphones are created equal. Several criteria are to be taken into account, as well depending on the rate compatibility with your smartphone, use in a sports frame, insulation, ergonomics and, of course, sound quality. Among the main trends, completely wireless headphones have been in vogue since the arrival of Apple's AirPods. We are talking about True Wireless, headphones that rely only on the Bluetooth connection, without the slightest wire the tab. It is one of the most diverse markets and it is the one with the best current references, such as the Jabra Elite Active 65t, which effectively reduces noise, Bose with its SoundSport Free, ideal for sport, Sony with its WF-1000X, complete and ergonomic or B&O Play with its BeoPlay E8, for great luxury sound.

To help you choose the pair of in-ear headphones that suits you best, the editor of Toms Guide tells you the main points to observe and the best models in each price category or for each specific use.

Our selection of the best in-ear earphones


Image 2: Comparison: what are the best in-ear headphones?

TaoTronics TT-EP002

The best under 100

Remote control : three buttons + two buttons, microphone | System : Android, iOs | Design : classic | Bluetooth : no | Storage : yes | Pairs of bits : 6 end caps, 6 hooks | Anti noise : yes | Sensitivity : 101 dB | Frequency response : 20 – 20,000 Hz

After TT-EP01 really stunning and low-cost headphones, which suffered from average ergonomics, TaoTronics refines its copy and offers very attractive in-ear headphones. Around a long mini-jack cable which integrates two remote controls (one for controlling the mobile, another for activating the noise reduction), the headphones offer great comfort. The audio rendering is very clear and balanced and the hands-free kit is particularly effective.


Image 3: Comparison: what are the best in-ear headphones?

Jabra Elite Active 65t

The best under 150

Remote control : two buttons, microphone | System : Android, iOs | Design : classic | Bluetooth : yes | Storage : yes | Pairs of bits : 3 | Anti noise : yes | Sensitivity : 103 dB | Frequency response : 20 – 20,000 Hz

Compact and elegant, the Jabra Elite Active 65t are pure Bluetooth in-ear headphones, without the slightest bit of wire. They offer perfect support, with great passive insulation; if you prefer to remain attentive to the outside world, microphones come to pick it up in a specific mode. The audio rendering is really excellent and the application is full of advanced parameters. A sure value.


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Bose SoundSport Free

The best for sport

Remote control : three buttons, microphone | System : Android, iOs | Design : classic | Bluetooth : yes | Storage : charging case | Pairs of bits : 3 | Anti noise : no | Sensitivity : 101 dB | Frequency response : 20 – 20,000 Hz

Are you looking for audiophile headphones for outdoor sports? The Bose SoundSport Free are flawless at all levels. Their ergonomic design provides excellent support and you can wear them for hours without feeling embarrassed. The connection works impeccably well, and the sound is homogeneous, with a real feeling of immersion.


Image 5: Comparison: what are the best in-ear headphones?

Sennheiser IE 40 Pro

The most professional

Remote control : two buttons, microphone | System : Android, iOs | Design : classic | Bluetooth : no | Storage : yes | Pairs of bits : 3 | Anti noise : passive | Sensitivity : 115 dB | Frequency response : 20 – 18,000 Hz

Directly from the professional range of Sennheiser, the IE 40 Pro will suit all those looking for reliable and efficient audio feedback, especially for playing on stage. It offers excellent comfort, with perfect support and good passive insulation. The cable bypasses the pavilion of the ear and you are not afraid of untimely disconnections. On the audio side, the IE 40 Pro returns balanced and precise sound, with well-emphasized bass.


Image 6: Comparison: what are the best in-ear headphones?

Sony WF-1000XM3

The best True Wireless

Remote control : two stactile surfaces | System : Android, iOs | Design : classic | Bluetooth : yes (5.0) | Storage : charging case | Pairs of bits : 4 silicone, 3 foam | Anti noise : active | Autonomy : 8 hours | Frequency response : 20 – 20,000 Hz

New high-end True Wireless headphones from the Sony catalog, the WF-1000XM3 are among the best in-ear on the market. They shine first of all by their quality of finish and their sober and versatile design. With four sizes of silicone eartips and three models of foam, you will certainly benefit from excellent support and comfort. The audio rendering is breathtaking, with clear and precise sound and well-presented bass. Better yet, the WF-1000XM3 are active noise reduction headphones, with excellent insulation. A dj sre value.


The sound quality

Obviously, earphones are primarily intended to listen to music. It would therefore be a mistake to overlook this essential point. However, it is difficult, if not impossible, to trust technical sheet to check the sound quality of in-ear headphones. by default, certain technical concepts already allow an order to be given.

This is for example the case of sensitivity or bandwidth. The first, expressed in dcibels for 1 mW power, used to express the sound power that a headset is capable of delivering. For in-ear headphones, it is generally understood around 100 dB. The higher this sensitivity, the better the sound will be reproduced in the headphones, living for example the high volume saturation.

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The bandwidth of the costers, or frequency response, corresponds to the range of sounds that headphones are capable of producing. The wider the range, the more the cutters will be able to go down in the bass or go up in the treble. Bandwidth is expressed through two numbers. The first, lower, corresponds to the lowest frequency that can be reproduced by the earphone. The highest number corresponds to the highest frequency. It is generally considered that a Hi-Fi headset is capable of producing frequencies ranging from 20 20,000 Hz, since these are human audible frequencies. If certain headphones with a bandwidth of up to 40,000 Hz, the highest frequencies are useless since they are inaudible.

Should you fall for HD audio?

Finally, note that some brands like to produce a its more typical in their cost, while others have the reputation of being as neutral as possible. Among the reputed brands for a sound rather worn towards the bass, we can cite Bose or Beats, traditionally prone to producing lower tones, even if the Bose SoundTrue Ultra remain very balanced. As for more neutral brands, we find for example Focal or Philips with a sound produced by the listeners very faithful to the original file. From this point of view, it all depends on your personal taste and the type of music you listen to. For example, if you are a jazz or classical music lover, prefer a neutral brand like Jays. If you like hip-hop or electro more, headphones producing more bass are a great choice. A good middle ground at an affordable price can be found at Yamaha. With its M100, the Japanese manufacturer offers cutters less than 100 euros very comfortable with a quality sound reproduction slightly oriented towards the bass.


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What about insulation?

Due to their format, in-ear headphones are in essence more insulating than conventional cutters. However, not all costors are created equal, far from it. To explain the differences, you first need to understand two principles: passive isolation and active isolation.

Lpassive isolation is that which is introduced by the very shape of the cutters. Since the earpieces are supposed to occupy the entire diameter of the ear canal, in-ear earphones already offer good passive insulation. However, this can be increased depending on the tip size or even its shape. Indeed, some cutters offer tips with several fins. This design allows you to add several layers of silicone between your eardrum and the exterior, thus ensuring better insulation. In addition, the wider the tip of your cutter, the more insulation will be important, but the less comfortable the wearing. It is up to you to adapt your needs both in terms of insulation and comfort. The set of in-ear headphones that we recommend are accompanied by several pairs of eartips, with memory materials to guarantee maximum insulation.

Check out our guide to buying ear muffs

In addition to this passive insulation, some cutters also offer active insulation. We then speak ofnoise cancellation. In this case, the headphones are fitted with microphones which will analyze the external sounds and produce a reverse phase sound sent with the music played by the headphones. This phase inversion will make it possible to cancel outside noises and thus ensure an almost perfect insulation.

If this technology is mainly present in headphones, some manufacturers have decided to offer it in their in-ear models. This is for example the case of Audio-Technica with the ATH-ANC40BT, B&O with the BeoPlay H3 ANC or Bose QuietComfort 20. These offer a much better noise filter than most competitors, headband or in-ear, with excellent sound quality, but were priced near 300 euros. If Bose has since released the QuietControl 30, our preference is always towards QuietComfort 20 due to better noise cancellation, better autonomy, possible use in passive mode and a lower price.


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QuietComfort 20

Bose

249.99 at Darty's


What comfort?

Generally, manufacturers offer several pairs of eartips, silicone or foam, with their in-ear earpieces. Enough to ensure that the user will find a size corresponding to the diameter of his ear canal. Prefer therefore the models offering as many tips as possible. However, comfort remains the main problem with this type of headset. Indeed, all ears have different shapes. It is indeed one of the biometric tools that can be used to identify a person in the same way as fingerprints, iris or voice analysis.

Image 10: Comparison: what are the best in-ear headphones?Bose tips (fins) or Xcessor (fins) improve the comfort of your cutters

You will understand, the comfort and the maintenance of the earphones are above all a personal business. Among the existing support systems, we can note the fins which allow the earphones to be wedged against the ear shell, but also other systems such as earrings where the fins which will allow you to go deeper into the ear canal.

In addition, several manufacturers, such as Bose or Sennheiser, make it possible to buy additional tips if those sold basic with your cutters are not suitable for your comfort. This is for example the case of Bose StayHear M tips. If these are available with the SoundTrue Ultra, QuietComfort 20 or QuietControl 30 models, they can also be purchased separately for seven euros. Particularly comfortable with their flexible silicone fins, they are only compatible with certain headphones from the American brand. However, choosing a pair of StayHear compatible Bose headphones will ensure excellent comfort and forget you're wearing headphones. The manufacturer now offers several families of StayHear, StayHear + or StayHear Ultra tips, check their compatibility before investing.


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Whether it is form, comfort or support, there is no quick fix, the sensations can be very different from one user to another. In any case, if you can, don't hesitate try the headphones in store before buying them. If, despite everything, the cutters are not comfortable enough for you, it will also often be possible to change them by buying another pair of silicone eartips, from the same manufacturer or not. Most cutters offer a standard bit format which can therefore be replaced by another pair purchased from another manufacturer such as Xcessor with its Triple Flange tips.


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higher price level, in-ear costers Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless also offer a great level of comfort. They have an excellent quality of finish, they are waterproof against water splashes and are accompanied by a protective fabric cover to transport them, which also ensures their recharging. With four sizes of silicone eartips, you will certainly find the earpieces that best suit your body shape, while enjoying perfect support and good general insulation. The sound is perfectly balanced, with well-presented bass and clearly audible treble, which does not spoil anything!


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Momentum True Wireless

Sennheiser

With or without remote control?

If in-ear headphones already existed a few years ago, when MP3 players were the main means of listening to music on the move, they are now mainly associated with smartphones. Therefore, the remote control becomes an essential accessory for all types of headphones, unless you use them only on a computer or Hi-Fi system.

Image 14: Comparison: what are the best in-ear headphones?Focal Sphear, Jays a-Jays Five, Sennheiser Momentum in-ear and Bose QuietComfort 20 remote controls

Typically, remote controls for in-ear headphones have three different buttons. The central button allows you to pause music, resume playback or answer a call and hang up. A button located above offers the possibility of increasing the volume when that at the bottom allows to decrease it. True Wireless headphones are generally completely remote-controlled and directly integrate physical buttons on their surface. They require a certain time of learning, certain functionalities obliging you to exert three successive pressures, for example.

However, one criterion is necessarily to be taken into account when choosing your tailors: the compatibility with your smartphone. Indeed, in-ear headphones are sometimes only compatible with a single system, iOS or Android. This is for example the case of Bose QuietComfort 20 active noise reduction that we recommend, which are available in two versions. Be careful: when choosing your headphones, you should therefore remember to check which system they are compatible with, otherwise some buttons, in particular the volume , may not work.

Some other brands have developed several versions of each cutter, one compatible with each system. This is for example the case of the manufacturer Jays which offers its a-Jays Four + in three different formats: Android, Windows and iOS. On the side of q-Jays, just screw a cable with a remote control compatible with your smartphone to control your music. For their part, Bluetooth headphones are compatible with all systems.


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In addition, the remote control (or the headphones themselves, for True Wireless models) generally includes a microphone which will allow you to discuss with your interlocutor within the framework of a telephone discussion. We prefer the remote controls rather close to the auricles so that they are naturally located closer to the mouth.

Finally, some headphones offer compatibility with voice assistants smartphones, whether Google Assistant on Android, or Siri on iPhone. To activate it, you usually just need to press the central button for a long time, then simply pronounce your request into the microphone. A handy feature for making a call, calculating a route or finding a music album, for example.

What form of cable?

The market has grown considerably in recent months and there are really two families of in-ear headphones: those that come with a cable and the True Wireless models who are not today. In the latter case, you have no questions to ask yourself. You will still have to be careful not to park them, by carefully storing them in their charging case. Be aware that the application of many cutters has a detection mode, which makes them ring if you cannot find them. This is particularly the case of the models of Jabra or from Sony.

For more conventional models, you should pay particular attention to the condition of the cable, which is one of the primary causes of headset or in-ear headphone failure. If some headphones less than 50 euros can easily be replaced, an abm cable can be a real blow for some models displayed more than 100 euros.

In an attempt to overcome this wear problem, most manufacturers therefore directly offer a storage bag with their cutters. Only, after a few days, it can quickly be overwhelming to systematically store its headphones in its case and put them back in the ears a few hours later.

Image 16: Comparison: what are the best in-ear headphones?The cables of the Bose SoundTrue Ultra, Mrice E300 and Jays a-Jays Five, increasingly flat

Another solution, much more interesting, is that of cables tangle free. They are actually cables designed specifically not to be us when they are left freely in a pocket or handbag. These cables generally have a flat design and are more rigid than conventional cables in order to prevent knots and their damage.

Which headphones for sport?

Some headphones are specifically designed for the sport with a few features that stand out from the crowd. So, they are usually tench, to resist sweat, but also more members so as not to slip at the slightest movement. These helmets often offer a less good insulation than conventional in-ear headphones. A characteristic that is above all safety reasons, to remain attentive to your outdoor environment during a jogging or a bike ride for example.

Some Bluetooth headphones, such as Samsung IconX where the Jabra Elite Sport, operate like real activity sensors. They thus make it possible to dispense with connected watches or bracelets since they are capable of measuring your heart rate during activity or the number of steps taken. These listeners work with a dedicated application that sometimes allows you to transfer this data from other quantified self services like Google Fit, Strava or MyFitnessPal.

Image 17: Comparison: what are the best in-ear headphones?Sports headphones can be classic, with fin, earhook or neckband

Tailors designed specifically for sport are available under many forms. We can thus find neck loops, ear loops or tailors with dorsal fins for better accommodation in the ear shell. The interest of these different formats is always the same: to allow the earphone to be best fixed in the ear to prevent it from wobbling during the activity.

Each format has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, if the neck strap keeps the two knives attached to a rigid part, which therefore does not risk falling, it can be embarrassing in the context of an endurance race with a bar that taps on the neck to the rhythm of the crowd. From this point of view, our preference therefore goes to the format cutters ear hook (Beats PowerBeats3 or Jabra Sport Pace) or fins (Bose Soundsport or Jaybird X3) which interfere less during jogging.

Comparison of helmets and headphones for sport: which is better?

To play sports, we recommend the tailors Bose SoundSport Free. In addition to offering sound of very good quality, they know particularly comfortable and Bluetooth compatible. The quality of the sound offered also allows them to be used not only during sports activities, but also for everyday use, even if the insulation will be lower than with other headphones. note that SoundSport also exists in version Pulse, offering a heart rate sensor for 20 euros less, but with a neck strap.

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Image 18: Comparison: what are the best in-ear headphones?

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Bluetooth headphones, with or without a cable?

You will understand: if the Bluetooth in-ear headphones were until recently reserved for athletes, things have considerably changed since then. Main driving effect, the appearance of Apple's AirPods paved the way for truly discreet and compact True Wireless headphones. Two types of products therefore coexist, the cutters connected by a cable, and the independent ones one from the other.

Bluetooth headphones linked together

In the case of certain Bluetooth headphones, the two ears must necessarily be connected by a cable. Consequently, the wireless aspect of these headphones loses part of its interest since the cable can still be damaged, unless it is housed in a neck loop, as is the case for example with headphones Beats X or some Bose QuietControl 30.

Consult our guide to buying Bluetooth headsets

Image 20: Comparison: what are the best in-ear headphones?Most Bluetooth headphones are for sports

Among the connected headphone models, we can cite those dealing with a design in rigid neck, with controls and integrated microphone, which comes to rest on the shoulders and do the tailors. This is for example the case of Audio-Technica ATH-ANC40BT which feature a sleek black design and active noise isolation. Note also that Bose chose this format also for its QuietControl 30, just like Beats with the BeatsX or Jabra who offers a helmet with a similar look with its Halo Smart.


Image 21: Comparison: what are the best in-ear headphones?

term the Bluetooth headphones should become more and more numerous. Manufacturers will have to follow Apple's logic with its iPhone 7. The American glove has indeed decided to make itpass on the jack and only allows you to connect headphones or headphones using the Lightning jack or Bluetooth. The second solution obviously seems the most logical for manufacturers since the Bluetooth headphones can be used with any device, Android or iPhone smartphone, or even laptop, which is not the case with the Lightning socket. Today, its entire range has undergone the same regime and there is no longer a jack on an Apple smartphone.

Headsets independent from each other

In addition, some manufacturers of Bluetooth headphones are moving to another format, completely wireless not only between the smartphone and the headphones, but also between the headphones. It's the True Wireless Bluetooth.

This is the choice made by Apple with its AirPods Released at the end of 2016. If the iPhone's wireless headphones resume the shape of classic headphones, other manufacturers have made an even more daring choice with in-ear headphones that blend completely inside the ear canal. We can notably cite the case of Samsung with its headphones Gear IconX, from Jabra with the Elite Sport or Bragi with the The dash. Please note, however, that these cutters are generally sold at an impressive price ranging between 150 and 300 euros depending on the model. this price, it is therefore better to avoid losing them. Fortunately, manufacturers provide storage boxes which also act as a charging station thanks to an integrated external battery.

Among the choice available in this growing product category, our preference is for Jabra Elite Active 65t due to their more ergonomic design, their great versatility and advanced functionalities, through an ergonomic and comprehensive application, which boost audio quality. If you have a larger budget, Beats Powerbeats Pro are also very convincing. They stand out for their precise and balanced audio rendering, their great comfort but also by their autonomy of more than ten hours.


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Image 23: Comparison: what are the best in-ear headphones?