Best in-ear headphones: 11 wired earphones for the best sound quality and noise blocking in the smallest package

Shove them in your lugs and prepare to boogie

The best wired, in-ear headphones – and there are many excellent examples – offers a great listening experience by blocking out the outside world and channelling sweet sounds into your ears, like honey pouring through a funnel.

Actually, disregard that analogy, it sounds horrible.

Buying in-ears is not easy as you can't try before you buy in shops, as people get a bit funny about you shoving their stock into your ears. 

However, thanks to the magic of distance selling, you CAN send in-ears back to online retailers if they turn out to sound bad, or not fit in your ear holes. 

Wired, in-ear headphones tend to have the least longevity of any headphones: they're tiny, mainly used outdoors, and have a wire to snag. So we suggest you don't go too expensive when purchasing. 

They're also more difficult to get great sound out of than on-ear and over-ear headphones, so unfortunately we'd also recommend you don't go too cheap. The sweet spot? The coveted £50 to £150 bracket. 

You can go pricier if you like, but don't come crying to us when you lose or break them.

So what are the best in-ear headphones?


Our favourite in-ears remain the Sennheiser Momentum M2IE. Usually to be found on sale for well under £100, they offer the best mix of sound, fit and price.

If you're after something funkier, the Kef M100 is another proven classic, with very smart styling and a more accurate but arguably less exciting sound than the Sennheisers.

If you have money to burn, it's hard to argue with the RHA T20i.

The best in-ear headphones in T3's order of best-ness

1. Sennheiser Momentum M2IE

Best in-ear headphones, pound for pound

Mic and remote: Yes

Very strong audio
Smart enough looks
A wider choice of tips would be good

If you're after a reliably good pair of headphones, Sennheiser is as good a starting point as any. Its first earphones from the Momentum line are a good few years old now, but earphones just don't date like most tech products do.

The M2IE boasts fantastically detailed sound, plenty of bass and dedicated versions for both iOS and Android.

There are plenty of other strong in-ear options from Sennheiser, notably the IE range, but the Momentum M2IE pulls off the killer combo of strong audio, reasonable pricing and smart looks. 

They also fit comfortably in the ear – not as deeply as some, but then many people don't like those kinds of full-bore ear stuffers. 

If there's one area that the M2IE shows it's age, it's in the fact that the ear-tips are the old-fashioned, domed type, rather than more modern options such as shaped silicone, or hooked. You can always buy those separately, though.  

2. Kef M100

More stylish, natural-sounding alternative to Sennheiser

Mic and remote: Yes

Very easy to listen to
Great styling and fit
Accurate sound
Not the bassiest thing ever

The Kef M100 in-ears have been around a few years, and we've actually moved them up a few notches in our 2017 update. 

They've got a rather unfashionably open and accurate sound, rather than the overtly bassy sound that most people like. But over time, we've come to appreciate that they don't so much lack bass as not provide an excess of it. 

They're reliably good with all forms of music, have a very simple yet comfortable fit, with no need to wrap them around your ears, or 'screw' them into your earholes.

With a high-performance 10mm driver and precision-cut aluminium casing in a choice of colours, they also look highly classy. 

In short, this blend of Kef's traditional audiophile instincts with contemporary styling is a fantastic product, and great value. 

3. RHA T20i

Best in-ear headphones over £150

Mic and remote: Yes

Well made
Excellent sound quality
Rather pricey

A big step up the price trail towards the summit of Mount Expensiveness, the RHA T20i is nonetheless still hugely desirable.

Sound is superb across the board, here, but if you for some reason don't find it quite right, there are actually three clever, interchangeable filters included, which customise the audio profile to suit your taste.

The options, as you'd imagine, are 'regular', treble-boost for opera lovers, and bass-boost for all dubstep mans dem.

Made of steel, they're among the more solid in-ear 'phones we've tried, but although they could easily verge on heavy and uncomfortable, they're actually pretty comfortable, thanks to the mouldable around-ear wires.

With a large array of tips in the box you're bound to find one that fits, and noise isolation is also impressive.

4. Soundmagic E10C

Best in-ear headphones under £50

Mic and remote: Yes

Excellent build 
Seriously enjoyable sound quality
Aluminium less comfy than plastic, clearly

In a market saturated with statement headphones, the E10C prove you don’t have to spend big to get big sound.

The all-aluminium casing is a rarity at this price, as is the cross-platform in-line mic and remote that works equally with Android and iOS.

Light, comfortable and unobtrusive they have a spirited sound that’s very enjoyable. They're maybe a touch heavy on the bass, but for anything other than plaintive, acoustic moments, they E10C are a winning mix of good looks, pumping audio and low, low price.

5. Bose SoundTrue Ultra

Rock solid fit and very decent sound

Mic and remote: Yes

Comfortable and secure
Best-in-class ear hooks
Understated to the point of boring

T3 liked the original SoundTrue range for its solid build quality, sport-inspired eartips and consistent sound quality. 

Upgraded this year and all the better for it, they boast a super soft and seriously secure fit that's as comfortable as anything we’ve worn lately. 

While not the sexiest thing we’ve ever put in our ears, they’re ideal for long listening sessions, with a pleasingly rich sound across a wide frequency range.


6. B&O Play Beoplay H3

Cracking lifestyle-audio option

Mic and remote: Yes

Very comfortable
Well balanced, spacious sound
Stylish
Mo' style = mo' $$$$

Buy Beoplay H3 at Amazon

In line with the B&O Play range in general, the H3 is an elegant pair of premium headphones that looks better than similar sounding rivals, but also charges you a little more for the privilege. Or quite a lot more, if you want the gunmetal ones.

Also available in black, silver and 'Champagne' gold, the H3 has a milled aluminium casing that looks bloody lovely and is also very light at 13g

The custom-built, 10.8mm divers and micro bass port give some extra oomph, but the H3 doesn't boom unnecessarily, instead giving a brisk, generous and well-balanced delivery that’s easy to listen to, whatever your tastes. 

7. Onkyo E700m

Premium quality in-ears

Mic and remote: Yes

Very comfortable
Generally very good sound
Cord tangles easily

Sound-wise, the Onkyo E700m is terrific, with an energetic delivery that’s impossible not to enjoy. 

There are 'Hi-res audio' logos plastered over the box, but the majority of humankind will be pleased to know they do a very decent job with more compressed files, too. 

That's probably down to larger-than-expected, 13.5mm drivers, and a tiny grill on top that does the job of a bass reflex port (sort of). There's no volume control, for some reason, but at least calls are clear and the double-tap skip is responsive.

The only major bummer is that the pro-style twisted cable design, while it adds to the look, does tend to tangle in an old-school kinda way. 

8. Grado GR10

Best for audiophile-grade home listening

Mic and remote: Forget it

Superb sound quality
Stupidly expensive

Really expensive in-ear headphones are a growing market segment, which is a little surprising given that they should be intrinsically less comfortable and less impressive sonically than similarly high-priced over-ear headphones.

However, if that's the market you're buying into, Grado are your boys. 

The GR-10 don't sit in the ear as firmly as some, and you can forget about the bass-forward, rockin' sound generally associated with in-ear headphones. These have a far more audiophile-friendly, clean sound, suitable for long-term listening in discerning ears.

At this price, we really feel you'd be better off with over-ears, but that's just like, our opinion, man.

9. Klipsch Reference R6i

A veteran pair with cracking sound

Mic and remote: Yes

Reasonably budget-friendly
Fantastic sound quality
Kind of hideous

Want some comfy in-ear buds? This veteran pair from Klipsch still sounds great, and won't break the bank.

The patented contour tips are designed to accurately slot into your ear, and they're comfortable with a decent level of noise isolation. The dual drivers offer a wide frequency response, while the cable is tangle resistant and there's your standard three-button mic. Textbook.

10. Shure SE315

In-ear pioneer Shure delivers the goods

Mic and remote: No

Great sound quality
Ugly and uncomfortable
Quite pricey

Cheaper than Grado but still targeted at a more audiophile/monied punter is this pair of 'mid-range' Shures. 

Long-time experts in the in-ear field, Shure's top-of-the-line earphones are very expensive indeed, but some of that expertise trickles down to the cheaper likes of the SE315.

These are not the comfiest but because they penetrate so deep, they do offer highly impressive sound isolation, with a choice of buds to suit just about anyone. We do find with Shures that the smaller tips don't really anchor the earphones properly, so go large or use a Comply tip, which is basically an earplug with a hole in it.

It must be said that these look rather horrible, but once they're jammed in place the sound quality is almost up there with the Grado, and unlike that, you can actually move about in a pair of Shures.