Best Sound Quality Earbuds 2020 – Top 9 Rated Reviews & Buying Guide

Whilst traditional over the ear headphones still provide the best audio experience, in-ear headphones or earbuds, have improved leaps and bounds in recent years in terms of sound quality, making them a viable alternative to their bulkier cousins.

Therefore, we’re going to take a look at 10 of the best sound quality earbuds currently available on the market. Naturally, audio quality is generally better as you rise up the price scale, but we’ve managed to include some cheaper gems in our list that sound superb and won’t require a second mortgage.

Before we get into the reviews, let’s take a quick look at the factors to consider when looking to buy a pair of sound quality earbuds…

Buyers Guide To Buying Best Sound Quality Earbuds

Usage

The first thing to consider is what you’ll be primarily using your earbuds for. If you’ll mainly be listening to music, the genre will be an important factor. Fans of bass-heavy music should look for earbuds with a larger driver and bass enhancement EQ features. Classical or jazz fans will want a more defined sound, focusing on mid and treble clarity above the lower ends.

If podcasts or audiobooks are more your thing, then a set of earbuds that emphasize the mid-range frequencies should be what you’re looking for.

best sound quality earbuds

Comfort & Fit

There are an array of different designs on the market. Look for something that will stay securely in your ear without the need for constant adjustment. Most manufacturers supply a range of different sized tips to accommodate variations in ear canal size. Be wary of manufacturers that promote one size fits all earbuds as they are unlikely to fulfill that promise.

Noise Isolation Capability

Sound quality earbuds will also be able to block unwanted outside noise from spoiling your listening experience. Most do this through passive noise isolation, which basically means creating a seal through a good fit. Some do this far better than others, so make sure the buds you buy are rated highly in this area.

Budget

Ultimately, as a general rule, the amount of money you have to spend will determine the level of sound quality you will end up with. The highest audio quality is found at the upper end of the price spectrum. That being said, there are some cheaper models on the market that punch weigh above their price point, a couple of which we have included here.

So with all that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best sound quality earbuds from across the price range, starting with a quick comparison chart.

Best Sound Quality Earbuds Comparison Table

ProductPriceWired or WirelessNoise IsolationOverall Sound QualityRating
Price
*****
Wired or Wireless
Wireless
Noise Isolation
****
Overall Sound Quality
*****
4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)
Price
*****
Wired or Wireless
Wireless
Noise Isolation
***
Overall Sound Quality
****
4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)
Price
****
Wired or Wireless
Wireless
Noise Isolation
****
Overall Sound Quality
*****
5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
Price
**
Wired or Wireless
Wireless
Noise Isolation
**
Overall Sound Quality
**
4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)
Price
****
Wired or Wireless
Wireless
Noise Isolation
*****
Overall Sound Quality
***
4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)
Price
******
Wired or Wireless
Wireless
Noise Isolation
*****
Overall Sound Quality
***
4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)
Price
**
Wired or Wireless
Wired
Noise Isolation
***
Overall Sound Quality
**
4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)
Price
*
Wired or Wireless
Wired
Noise Isolation
*
Overall Sound Quality
*
4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5)
Price
***
Wired or Wireless
Wireless
Noise Isolation
***
Overall Sound Quality
***
4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)
best sound quality earbuds reviews

Top 9 Best Sound Quality Earbuds On The Market 2020 Reviews

1 Bose SoundSport Free Truly Wireless Headphones

Near the top of our price range are the SoundSport Free earphones from Bose. Bose pride themselves on creating top end audio products. They also have a reputation for over inflated price tags. The question is, have Bose managed to match the high price with outstanding audio quality? Just about, yes.

With the SoundSport Free, Bose has created a solid and resolute sound profile that lends itself well to virtually all genres of music. The bass reproduction is what really jumps out. Many manufacturers fall into the trap of over focusing on bass. Bose, on the other hand, have created a refined, yet punchy and deep bass profile that blends perfectly with the mids and trebles.

Crisp and clear…

Vocals are allowed free reign of expression and sound full of energy, just like they’re supposed to. An artist like Aretha Franklin’s huge vocal range is showcased very well. Lead instruments are also faithfully reproduced, very much helped by trebles that are crisp yet never descending into harshness.

A good seal is vital when trying to create effective noise isolation, and Bose has managed to achieve that here without creating a bud that has to be jammed too far into your ear canal.

Stay aware…

That said, Active Noise Cancelling technology (ANC), is not present, meaning more of your surroundings will get through. This is intentional, though, as these earbuds are meant to be used by people who don’t want to completely block off the outside world.

All in all, a very nice sounding set of earbuds. But are they good enough to be crowned very best of the sound quality earbuds we’re reviewing? Read on to find out…

Bose SoundSport Free Truly Wireless Headphones
Our rating:4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)

Pros

  • Signature Bose sound profile.
  • Faithful sound reproduction throughout the frequency range.
  • Good passive noise isolation for earbuds.

Cons

  • Heavy price tag.

2 Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earphones

At the same retail price point as the Bose SoundSport, the Powerbeats Pro are, without a doubt, the best sound quality earbuds for running and sport available on the market. With their adjustable ear hook design, they’re almost impossible to dislodge.

But how do they measure up in the sound department?

Historically, Beats headphones have been accused of an over reliance on bass at the expense of everything else. They seem to have taken this criticism on board with the Powerbeats Pro. The sound profile on display here is a far more balanced affair. Bass is still at the forefront of things, but you no longer have to be into bass orientated music to appreciate these earbuds.

A far more refined sound has been produced, which means lovers of jazz or classical music can get as much out of these as your average bass head will. The major improvement has to be in the mid-range reproduction. Vocals and lead instruments are given far more space to shine, whilst being complimented by a richly textured bass.

Comfortable and stable…

On the flip side, noise isolation is an area where the Powerbeats fail to impress. ANC technology is absent, so they rely on passive noise isolation (a good seal) to cut out unwanted noises. Although the fit is comfortable and stable, a lot of background noise still manages to make its way through. This obviously takes the sheen off your listening experience if you’re in an excessively noisy environment.

As Beats headphones are now manufactured by Apple, they include the new H1 wireless chip, which makes pairing with Apple products ridiculously easy. You’ll also get hands free Siri, which is very useful for placing calls and messaging without picking up your phone. For this reason and their superior audio quality to the AirPods, they are easily the best sound quality headphones for iPhone users.

Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earphones
Our rating:4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Pros

  • A mature and well balanced sound profile.
  • iPhone compatibility.

Cons

  • High price point
  • Noise isolation needs improvement.

3 Jaybird Tarah Pro Wireless Sport Earbuds

Coming in at 20% cheaper than the Bose and Beats earbuds, the Jaybird Tarah Pro’s give the more expensive competition a real run for the money when it comes to sound quality. Jaybird has always prided themselves on delivering quality sound, and even though these buds will primarily be used during exercise, they’ve faithfully stuck to that ethos here.

The audio profile has a wonderfully natural sound that’s very pleasing on the ear. Excellent clarity throughout the frequency range means you can hear extraordinary detail, even at relatively low volume.

Customize to perfection…

If the default settings are not to your taste, the free mobile app allows you to customize the sound in any way you like. This can be done by tweaking the EQ manually or choosing from one of the many preset profiles.

An extra that really sets the Jaybird’s apart is the Personal EQ feature, which fine tunes the audio frequencies to your exact tastes. It does this through a hearing test and saves the results to the buds themselves so that the setting can be used on multiple devices. A very nice touch indeed.

With this feature, any kind of sound profile can be achieved. Bass aficionados will be happy to hear that the Jaybird’s can pump out a thumping beat with the best of them if so desired.

So how much sound from the outside world do they let in?

Surprisingly little. ANC technology isn’t employed here as it doesn’t need to be. The buds naturally block out a significant amount of ambient noise, allowing the Audio pride of place. Not sure how safe this would be while jogging in busy urban environments, but as we’re focusing purely on audio quality here, it’s another tick in the box.

All in all, a real front runner for in this roundup.

Jaybird Tarah Pro Wireless Sport Earbuds
Our rating:5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Pros

  • Rich and natural sounding audio.
  • Customizable EQ ability.
  • Excellent noise isolation.

Cons

  • Quite expensive.

4 Anker Soundcore Spirit X Wireless Earbuds

Down at the lower end of our price range are the Soundcore Spirit X from Anker, who primarily focuses on the budget end of the market. Sound quality expectations should be kept suitably low. Ultra high definition sound these earbuds do not supply, but they do kick out a surprisingly energetic and fun sound profile.

Low end emphasis…

Bass is the order of the day here. It’s a bouncy, deep reproduction of low frequencies that make these a decent cheap option for dance or hip-hop fans. Fortunately, the bass isn’t too fuzzy or booming and does allow room for other musical components to make themselves heard.

That being said, the mids and trebles are a little neglected when it comes to texture and finer detail. Such refinement is usually the preserve of headphones many times the cost, so we can let that one fly.

Lacking isolation…

Noise isolation isn’t particularly wonderful, especially at the lower end of the frequency range. Engine rumbles will make their way into your ear, although they are much better at blocking out the vocal chatter of an office environment, for example.

What you’re getting here is fantastic value for money. Listeners who need a cheap set of buds primarily for exercising, with the audio quality a secondary consideration, should put the Soundcore Spirit X right near the top of their list. Definitely the best affordable sound quality earbuds on this list.

Anker Soundcore Spirit X Wireless Earbuds
Our rating:4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)

Pros

  • Value for money.
  • Fun, deep bass.

Cons

  • Unrefined mids and trebles.
  • Unbalanced sound profile

5 Jabra Elite Active 65t Wireless Earbuds

At just under the price of the Jaybird’s, the Jabra Elite Active 65t are still pretty expensive as earbuds go. But, unfortunately, they can’t rival the Jaybird’s when it comes to superior audio quality. Don’t get me wrong; they make for a pleasant enough listening experience that most people will be happy with, they just don’t have that extra pizzazz that we’re looking for.

The bass reproduction will definitely be a little underwhelming for fans of more bass orientated genres. At the other end of the scale, trebles can often sound a little piercing at times.

A bit of a letdown…

The sound profile can be altered through Jabra’s accompanying app, but unlike the Jaybird, the customizable EQ options didn’t make nearly as much of a difference to the overall quality. As a result, the preset profiles were also a bit of a letdown.

One thing the Jabra’s do have going for them is excellent noise isolation capabilities. Very little in the way of noise penetrates the earbud seal. In this department, they perform better than any of the other headphones on this list. It’s a shame that the sound quality isn’t on a par with the noise isolation. Then we’d really have a pair of earbuds worth talking about.

Jabra Elite Active 65t Wireless Earbuds
Our rating:4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)

Pros

  • Outstanding noise isolation.

Cons

  • Disappointing bass.
  • Treble grates at times.
  • Over-priced.

6 Apple Airpods Pro Wireless Earbuds

The Apple Airpods Pro are the company’s high-end wireless earbuds and, at 15% more expensive than their Powerbeats line, are a pricey outlay for most listeners out there.

So how does the sound quality compare to the other top-end earbuds on this list?

Well, not very favorably, to be honest. Although a marked improvement on the Airpods 2. The Jaybird, Powerbeats, and Bose all have significantly preferable sound profiles.

Bass reproduction has received a boost on the previous model, and vocals stand out above instrumentation. This is good if you’re trying to make pop music fans happy. However, intricacies in more instrumental driven music don’t always shine through. Classical music, in particular, isn’t served very well by the Airpods.

But they will cancel out the noise…

One thing they do have over the other top-end buds is Active Noise Cancelling technology. Together with an improved seal, they are incredibly effective at canceling out virtually all external noise. Passing motorbikes barely register, and any constant noise like a loud fan or wind, are completely negated, leaving you free to enjoy the rather average sound quality.

Although this is a great feature, you can’t help wonder why they didn’t couple the sound profile of their Powerbeats line with the ANC tech. Something for the future maybe, but until then, if buying an Apple product, the Powerbeats superior audio wins the day.

Apple Airpods Pro Wireless Earbuds
Our rating:4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

Pros

  • Excellent ANC feature.
  • Plays basic pop well.

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Unsatisfying sound profile for the price.

7 Sony MDR-XB50AP Extra Bass Wired Earbuds

Heading back down to the lower end of the price range are the Sony MDR-XR50AP wired earbuds. They are part of Sony’s Extra Bass range and, as that would suggest, very much focus on the lower end of the frequency range.

A 12mm dynamic driver boosts the bass to levels not experienced with the other buds on this list. Bass enthusiasts won’t be able to wipe the smile from their face. Such thump at this low a price is sure to make them happy. It really does what it says on the tin.

Great bass, but lacks finesse…

For those that prefer a little more subtlety, balance, and refinement to their listening experience, you’d be well advised to look elsewhere. There is a noticeable lack of detail and texture throughout the rest of the frequency spectrum. In fairness, this is fine as these earbuds were never designed with finesse in mind.

On a positive note, the noise isolation of the Sony’s is very good. The buds sit quite deep in your ear canal, creating a good seal. Leakage is also kept to a minimum, leaving you free to crank it up without annoying those around you.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…

Sony has been making these headphones for years without changing the basic setup, and they continue to sell in huge numbers. People seem to like them, and you can’t argue with the price. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Sony MDR-XB50AP Extra Bass Wired Earbuds
Our rating:4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)

Pros

  • Bass-heads will be very happy.
  • Excellent noise isolation.
  • Very cheap.

Cons

  • Very unbalanced sound profile.
  • Little subtlety to be found.

8 Betron BS10 Wired Earbuds

Betron are a small British company, and the BS10’s are the cheapest earbuds they make. At half the price of the Sony MDR-XB50AP, they are also the cheapest earbuds on our list. At such a low price point, it’s ridiculous to expect the kind of high audio performance we get from higher-priced buds. You can’t really be disappointed if you choose something this cheap.

However…

With the price in mind, the BS10’s really don’t sound too bad. If we’re going to be critical, there is a general lack of clarity throughout the frequency range, and the overall sound could be described as a little fuzzy. They are advertised as bass orientated earbuds and have a 12mm driver pushing things along.

But, if it’s bass you are looking for, spend the extra few dollars on the Sony’s as there is no competition when it comes to boomability.

But, noise isolation isn’t great…

We struggled to create a good seal due to the rather shallow fit. Others may find this not to be a problem, but it constantly felt like you needed to push the buds further in which is never great. But hey, beggars can’t be choosers, and at this price, the BS10’s offer reasonable value for money and an acceptable sound.

Betron BS10 Wired Earbuds
Our rating:4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5)

Pros

  • Can’t get much cheaper.

Cons

  • Poor noise isolation
  • Fuzzy sound profile.

9 Anker Soundcore Liberty Air Wireless Earbuds

The Soundcore Liberty Air earbuds are unashamedly Anker’s attempt to replicate a budget version of Apple’s Airpods. At about a third the price of the Airpods Pro and half the cost of the standard Airpods, they represent very good value.

Not only are you saving money, but you’re also getting a set of earbuds that outperform their more expensive rivals in the sound quality department.

Nicely balanced for the price…

A surprisingly powerful bass kicks things along nicely, full of lively punch without ever bleeding into the mids. Many earbuds use an overly emphasized bass to hide poor audio quality. That isn’t the case here. Definition and clarity on complex multi-layered tracks is reasonably impressive. Vocal and instrumental separation is well handled, although things started to deteriorate slightly at higher volume levels.

With multiple ear bud tips to choose from, most ear sizes are well catered for, enabling good seal creation and effective passive noise isolation. The need for any ANC technology is virtually wiped out as a result. In the loudest environment, unwanted sound will make it through, but overall, you’ll generally experience uninterrupted listening.

Superb value for money…

Whilst not rivaling the sound quality that can be found elsewhere on this list, Anker has created an admirable audio package that can certainly compete when taking price into the equation. It’s safe to say that the Soundcore Liberty Air are the best sub $100 sound quality earbuds featured in this review.

Anker Soundcore Liberty Air Wireless Earbuds
Our rating:4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)

Pros

  • Rich, well defined audio.
  • Effective noise isolation
  • Value for money.

Cons

  • Slight distortion at higher volumes.

Well, that wraps up our review section. All that remains is to find out which will be announced as the over winners. But before that, let’s look at some other options.

More Choices

If noise isolation is more important to you than the quality of the sound, then please take a look at our reviews of the Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds currently available.

You may also be interested in our reviews of the Most Durable Earbuds, the Best Earbuds under 100 Dollars, the Best Earbuds under 50 Dollars, and the Best Headphones and Earbuds for Sleeping on the market.

So, What Are The Best Sound Quality Earbuds?

The clear winner for us was the…

In terms of audio quality, they’re right up there with the Bose SoundSport buds. The lower price point and the superior noise isolation capabilities are what made the difference between the two.

If the Jaybird’s are too expensive, you can’t go wrong with the…

At half the price, they have a balanced and rich sound profile that will satisfy most, making them the best sound quality earbuds under 100 dollars.