What are the best in-ear headphones you can buy today? Considering the huge amount of products offered in the market, it is extremely difficult to find the best value/price that fits a certain budget. This is a definitive guide to help you make the best purchase.
The reality is that the headphones are an essential part of our lifestyle and it is not easy to choose them properly. The popularization of smartphones has been crucial for us to carry large amount of music in our pockets. The problem? Normally manufacturers reduce costs, including medium quality headphones or low, significantly degrading the chances of good audio experience.
Also it has made in-ear headphones a bad name: “They are uncomfortable”, “I have earaches.”, “Not heard right,” “It’s making me deaf.” “They easily expire.”. The problem is that miniaturized components and maintain very good audio quality is not easy, and until relatively recently, was very expensive.
This is a guide final purchase of in-ear headphones. Sorted by price, from more expensive to cheaper:
Noble Audio Kaiser 10
How about some headphones that cost more than a MacBook Pro? Yes. This is the crown jewel, no higher than this, there is nothing better, nothing to compare with. Kaiser 10 Noble Audio reaches one of the highest points in audio quality and build quality. They are made in the most traditional way possible, made to order, where the customer chooses some of the materials and exterior design. This is the headphones equivalent of a Swiss watch at high precision.
The Kaiser 10 are designed with ten diaphragms : two low, two for midrange, two for medium/high frequencies, two for high frequencies and two more for ultra high frequencies.
There is no way to enjoy the real sound quality of these headphones if you plug in the laptop, smartphone or music player. You need a good amp to get real advantage.
Unique Melody Miracle
Have you ever heard music with custom headphones? It is a totally and completely different experience that completely changes the perception you have of music. It arises from the need to try to remove any external sound adapting the handset to the ear shape. In this sense Kaiser 10 are the best on the market, but the Unique Melody Miracle are in a very close second.
One feature that identifies the Miracle is how low is heard. After experiencing it , when a person says “Beats is such a good headphone brand.” you’ll laugh till eternity.
The Unique Melody Miracle have six balanced diaphragms: two high, two for the media and two for the bass.
AKG never can be cheap, which is usually the main criticism against this brand. For the nearly $1,000 that the K3003i cost, you can get custom mold headphones for theoretically better sound. In practice this is not necessarily true.
The K3003i use a standard dynamic aperture for low and double diaphragm balanced framework for medium and high. The body construction is at a premium and sound quality is simply brutal. Of course, it require some customization, including exchanging filters (black to increase the bass, gray to emphasize the media, white to raise high) and tops that best fit your ear canals.
Like the Audio Noble or Unique Melody Miracle, to really take advantage of the K3003i, you’ll need a decent amplifier.
Shure SE 535
The spoiled child, the favorite of those who appreciate the sound quality and transportability. Probably the best in-ear (not custom) you could buy if we consider the quality/price ratio. For less than $ 500, you can have the headphones that have nothing lesser than counterparts that are 300 or 400 dollars more expensive.
The headphones have a construction that makes the cable goes above the ear and lets you take the cable back or the front, depending on the situation. It includes many tapas with which you can try and find the one that best fits to your ear.
The IE80 is usually the first headphones you buy if you want to dive deeper into the world of high quality audio. The price is relatively low considering its performance. Sennheiser never disappoints and in this case simply shine. They have the same positioning system cables (above the ear) as the Shure SE 535 or MA-750 RHA that give an extra level of support.
The IE80 have a manual adjustment of the bass response according to user preferences although I recommend keeping at the lowest level, which is more than enough.
Etymotic shines when it comes to block any external sound to stay only with the sound coming out of the headphones. Perhaps no other in this guide is so good in that sense. Like almost any other brand model, the sound quality of ER4PT is excellent without much emphasis on the bass and especially shines in the media. They are extremely lightweight, although the physical design is not one of its strengths but is unimportant, when it really should care is what you hear, not what you see.
Sony has done an outstanding job with the XBA-H1, offering a new solution to enjoy a very good sound quality for less price: a hybrid diaphragm. These are the equivalent to Swatch Sistem 51, but headphones: new mechanisms to achieve high quality at a lower price.
The Sony XBA-H1 use a combination of dynamic diaphragm and a diaphragm nine millimeters balancing frame. They are light enough, but the body of each earpiece is relatively large, it can be uncomfortable for some people. Still, for 150 dollars, they are a great acquisition.
The RHA MA-750 surprised us by its build quality, choice of materials and audio quality for a price pretty tight that make it one of the best options if you want to have good audio for relatively little investment.
In addition to the excellent sound quality that RHA has achieved with this model, the headphones have remote control and microphone for smartphone, a very careful presentation, many tapas options to find the best comfort in your ears and a nice but different design what we are used to in this price range.
Philips Fidelio S1
In recent years, Philips is doing enough positive work with the quality of their headphones, particularly in the Fidelio line, headed by the S1, which is where the best value/price is.
There are headphones that cost between 50-100 dollars more and sound worse than Fidelio S1. Media and very good high and low content that creates good balance of sound that makes you wonder how it is possible to have such quality for low price.
Xiaomi Piston 2
Finally, we have the Piston Xiaomi. With the second generation of these headphones, we are convinced that the company applied some kind of black magic to make them sound so well for a price so low.
Low enough, sufficient means, not very good in high, little insulation of external sounds, but it is impossible to ask all from such a cheap accessory. If your budget is close to zero but want better sound than 99% of the headphones that come with Android smartphones, Piston 2 is an easy decision.