If I had $100 to spend on earbuds, I’d get the Sony XBA-C10IPs, which only cost $50 but beat competition twice as expensive. After researching dozens of headphones, considering 79 and testing the 15 most promising, our expert listening panel liked them the best. The Sonys fit everyone well, sound fantastic, and have both a remote and a mic.
Why Spend $100 on In-Ear Headphones?
When looking for in-ears, there are three things you want to take into account.
First, fit. Are they comfortable in your ear canal? Do they stay put or do they tug when you move? Do they seal off external sound? Do they chafe or irritate your ears? Good in-ear headphones should be light, easy to wear for long periods and fit comfortably once you find the correct tip.
Second, sound. How well do the in-ears reproduce sounds? Is there one frequency range that is over- or underrepresented? Are they so loud in one frequency range that it makes it uncomfortable to listen to music for very long? Music should sound warm and full and have a sense of space; voices should be clear and crisp.
Third, build. Headphones in this price range and size are generally used for commuting so it makes sense to look for something sturdy enough to survive the abuses of daily use. Things like a tangle-resistant cord and a well-designed carrying case are also good to look for as well.
You should also get something with a microphone and remote because having to take your phone out of your pocket/bag to answer a call while on the go (or even while sitting at a desk) can be really annoying.
Headphones in this price range will have better drivers and sound than models around $30 or less.
Why spend a little more? Headphones in this price range will have better drivers and sound than models around $30 or less. They’ll also have features like extra tips (to fit your ears properly), cable clips or a carrying case. While they won’t have the detail, sense of space and sonic clarity of $200 models (like our pick in that range, the RBH EP2) they will sound a darn sight better than the pair that you got with your mobile phone or that you snagged from that accessory kiosk at the mall. Not into in-ears? Take a look at our over-ear recommendations in the same price range.