While wireless headphones are much more popular these days, there are still perks to choosing a wired set. You'll never have to worry about charging them. Plus, you don't have to deal with the frustrating situation of losing just one earphone, rendering the other one useless. The best wired earbuds still have their place in the world, and our list is here to help you in your search for the right pair for you.
We've scoured the market to bring you five of the best earbuds you can plug in, taking into account their style, comfort, price, reviews, and, of course, sound quality. Having some kind of sound isolation technology also influenced our selection, as it means they can deliver exceptional audio without any distracting background noise, but some are better than others with this feature.
Before we get into the thick of it, you should first consider support. Does your smartphone still have a 3.5mm jack or will you be plugging it into the USB-C or Lightning charger port? There are adapters for pretty much any situation, but you'll want to be prepared before you pop a pair into your basket. With that covered, let's get into our top picks...
Best wired in-ear headphones
1. Shure AONIC 3
Best wired earbuds
The Shure AONIC 3 earbuds offer great value for money, boasting some impressive specs and dynamic sound quality that sets them apart from competitors. With a 3.5mm connector, 1.27m cable length, in-line remote and mic, and a sensitivity rating of 108dB, they are well-equipped for everyday use.
What's more, their ear hooks help keep them securely in place, making them ideal for on-the-go listening. And, despite their small size and lightweight design, the Shure earbuds pack a powerful punch, delivering high-quality sound with audio isolation technology blocking up to 37dB of noise to eliminate distractions.
All in all, these Shure earbuds are an excellent choice for anyone in the market for a pair of wired earbuds. Their competitive price, impressive specs, and top-notch sound quality make them a standout option. Whether you're commuting, working out, or just enjoying your favourite tunes, these earbuds are sure to deliver a great listening experience.
2. SoundMAGIC E11C
Best budget wired earbuds
The SoundMagic E11C earbuds are our cheapest entry, but don't let their price fool you as they are some of the best budget earbuds on the market today.
They have a sensitivity of 112dB, a 3.5mm connector, and come with a 1.2m cable, making them versatile to use anywhere you go. They're also designed to fit snugly and securely to ensure they don't fall out during the best moment of your favourite song.
Their sound quality looks impressive as well, with the earbuds boasting 10mm dynamic drivers that deliver a balanced sound image with a rich bass and transparent detail. They also feature a mic and a remote with three buttons that can start, stop, and adjust volume, all of which are compatible with Apple and Android devices.
In short, these SoundMagic earbuds are an inexpensive and versatile option that provide great sound quality and functionality for their double-digit price.
3. Sennheiser IE 900
Best premium wired earbuds
The Sennheiser IE 900 headphones are nothing short of a premium option, with a price tag that makes them some of the most expensive wired earbuds we've come across. However, to justify this cost, Sennheiser has packed pretty much every feature you can think of into them.
You get three different connector options: a 3.5mm connector, a 2.5mm connector, and a 4.4mm connector, plus a cable length of 1.2m. Moreover, they provide incredible sound quality, particularly when it comes to bass, thanks to Sennheiser's use of acoustic back volume to ensure accuracy across this critical frequency band.
Sennheiser has also taken comfort into consideration. The earbuds feature a shape and design inspired by professional personal monitoring systems, plus you get three elastic foam ear adapter sets in three different sizes to suit different needs.
Ultimately, the IE 900 earbuds are geared towards those with a significant budget and a discerning ear for high-quality audio. However, their quality cannot be ignored, hence why we've picked them out for our list.
4. 1more Triple Driver
Best mid-range wired earbuds
The 1more Triple Driver in-ear headphones are certainly up there with some of the best earbuds on the market. Despite the trend towards wireless headphones, their wired design means there is no need to worry about running out of battery or losing one of the earbuds.
And, considering their price, these headphones offer exceptional sound quality and features that surpass expectations. They are a top choice for those looking for a relatively inexpensive wired alternative to more modern wireless options, and come equipped with a three-button remote that is compatible with both Android and iOS.
Interestingly, they are the world's first THX Certified headphones according to 1more, with the company paying close attention to frequency response and its consistency, low distortion, and exceptional noise isolation from the three drivers (two balanced armatures and a separate dynamic driver).
On the whole, the Triple Driver in-ear headphones offer great value for money and some impressive specs. We'd definitely recommend them to anyone seeking a quality pair of wired earbuds at a reasonable price.
5. Etymotic ER2XR
Best wired earbuds for travelling
To round off our list, we have the Etymotic ER2XR in-ear headphones which come with some handy features that help them outperform their competition.
First and foremost, these headphones include a detachable cable, making them easily transportable without the worry of tangled wires or losing an earbud on your way to work, for instance.
Also, they're designed for comfort as they feature a three-layer traffic-cone ear tip and passive sound isolation that delivers 35-42dB attenuation. According to Etymotic, this ensures you hear all the details of music, but at much lower volumes to protect your hearing.
It's also worth mentioning the earbuds include a zippered storage pouch and a shirt clip to make them easy to store and easily transportable. So, in terms of on-the-go headphones, we'd say these Etymotic earbuds are a great pick.
Frequently asked questions about wired earbuds
If you're struggling to decide which earbuds to buy, or whether you need wired earbuds at all - don't worry. We've answered some of the most frequently asked questions below to help you out.
Are wired earbuds better than wireless ones?
Both wired and wireless earbuds have their own advantages and disadvantages, and choosing between them will ultimately depend on your personal preferences and needs.
Wired earbuds are useful as they provide reliable and consistent audio quality. Also, they're usually less expensive than wireless earbuds and don't require batteries or charging, making them more convenient for long listening sessions.
By contrast, wireless earbuds offer more freedom of movement and are generally more convenient for activities like working out or commuting. They don't have cables that can get tangled or caught on objects, and some models even offer noise-cancelling technology.
However, they tend to be more expensive than wired earbuds, you may experience connectivity issues or reduced audio quality due to interference, although this is not as common as wireless technology has improved since its inception.
Ultimately, both have their pros and cons, so deciding which of wireless or wired earbuds is "best" will come down to your own preferences and needs.
Can you still use wired earbuds with a smartphone?
Yes, it is still possible to use wired headphones with a smartphone. Some smartphones still come with a headphone jack or a lightning port to which you can connect your wired headphones.
However, newer models tend to forgo the headphone jack, so require either a dongle or adapter to connect your headphones. Additionally, some smartphones may only have a USB-C port, in which case you would need to use USB-C headphones or an adapter to connect your wired headphones once again.
We'd recommend checking the website of the manufacturer you're looking to buy from if you're unsure whether their earbuds are compatible with your device.
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