Deciding what the best in-ear headphones are is a contentious topic. After all, sound quality and comfort is largely subjective for a lot of people. That doesn't mean professional critics can't try to sort out the best from the junk though.
Consumer Reports recently put out a list of what it thinks are the best in-ear headphones available today. The exhaustive test saw the critics at Consumer Reports looking at over 150 wired in-ear headphones to determine which one is the best. While a winner is chosen, the magazine does offer a variety of excellent options for all kinds of budgets.
Starting off, Consumer Reports says the best in-ear headphones are the Polk Audio Nue Era. The magazine cites the headphones excellent sound quality and lightweight as standout features. The magazine also says it likes the tortoise shell design. The Polk Audio Nue Era headphones are a little on the pricey side at $100, but you can usually get a pair cheaper via Amazon or eBay.
If you want something a little more extravagant, Consumer Reports recommends the Bose QuietComfort 20i. It also has excellent audio quality, but the real standout feature is the noise canceling hardware. Like all things Bose, you're going to have to spend a lot more than what you're accustomed to. The QuietComfort 20i retails for $300.
Let's say that the above two in-ear headphones are too rich for your tastes. It's understandable. After all, not everybody has a few Benjamins lying around to spend on some headphones. You want good audio quality at an affordable price, and Consumer Reports has just that. The magazine rated the $10 Panasonic RP-TCM125 rather highly saying that it has excellent sound quality for the price. The only thing it's lacking is an integrated volume control button so those using these in-ear headphones on a mobile device will have to adjust the volume via the device.
— Consumer Reports (@ConsumerReports) April 28, 2014
On a personal note, I highly recommend the Sennheiser CX 300-II in-ear headphones. Out of all the in-ear headphones I've used, it packs the best bass. It also comes with three different sizes of rubber cushions so that it fits all ear sizes. The only downside compared to the in-ear headphones above is that it doesn't have any hardware control buttons or built-in mic. If you need any of that, you'll want to consider one of the above options. If you put sound quality above all, Sennheiser is an excellent alternative.
Image via Sennheiser