Music, podcasts, videos – it seems like there is an infinite range of things to listen to all around us. But most of the time, whether you’re working out, at work, or even taking a call, you want to keep your sounds to yourself.
You need earphones!
While headphones and earphones come in a wide variety of types, today, we’re going to focus on the little unobtrusive ones that hide in your ears, plus the ones that you don’t need to keep charging.
So, join us as we test out some of the best wired earbuds out there and find the perfect pair for you…
Top 8 Best Wired Earbuds For Your Consideration In 2021 Reviews
1 Shure SE215 – Best Wired Earbuds with Replaceable Cables
Colors: Black, Blue, White, and Clear
Shure has two entries on our list, and they’re both a bit pricey. But with the SE215 pair at a little more than a third of our priciest entry, they’re still pretty economical.
Let’s look at their features…
These earbuds have plastic housings that angle into your ears. They come with three sizes (S, M, L) of flexible silicone and three sizes of black foam tips, so you can find a very specific and comfortable, personalized fit.
Shure claims passive sound isolation of up to 37 dB of ambient noise. We tested all our earbuds out the same way – in a busy office, and while playing a drum kit, loud! With a tight fit, we were impressed with the noise isolation and were able to hear our tunes even over the drums (a little, anyway).
Stay where they should…
Designed to fit on behind and hook over your ears, the cable keeps in place perfectly, though some people might not find that positioning comfortable. This is a reinforced, tangle-resistant cable that fits to a 1/8” (3.5mm) standard jack.
However, a very fancy feature of the Shure earbuds is that the cable is replaceable. This means you can change it if it ever gets damaged, switch it to a Lightning connector for Apple products, or replace it with a cable with a mic and in-line controls. Yes, those are unfortunately lacking on these earbuds.
Finally, for sound, we think these earphones are solid. They have a frequency range of 22 Hz – 17.5 kHz, so you’ll miss out on some low lows and some of the ultra high end, but what was left was clear and smooth.
- Decent passive noise isolation.
- Replaceable, good-quality cables.
- A bit pricey.
- Not the best frequency range.
2 SoundMagic E11C – Best Wired Earbuds with Inline Controls
Colors: Black and Gunmetal (grey)
Next up, SoundMagic throws their hat into the ring with the E11C.
What are these buds all about?
First off, the C in E11C stands for controls. This pair of earbuds has convenient in-line controls and a built-in microphone for taking calls while hands free. Because the cable fits a 1/8” (3.5mm) jack, these are compatible with all devices that have a standard headphone port. Sorry new iPhone users!
And speaking of the cable, it’s silver-plated copper with a coated rubberized sleeve that is tangle-resistant. These will still tangle a bit, but only with a certain amount of effort. The silver-plated copper braid helps to cut down on line noise and boost clarity. We think it does the trick here.
What about sound?
These earphones use single 10mm drivers. We found the sound to be fairly well balanced and true to the actual audio. The bass is decent. It’s warm and strong but not overpowering. The high end can border on tinny with some tracks, but overall this wasn’t much of an issue.
As for noise isolation, the three sets of foam and three sets of silicone tips provided allow you to get a good fit, and this blocks out a bit of background noise. These worked well in our office setting, but with the drum kit test, they did more or less nothing.
Built to last…
The best part of these buds is the aluminum construction and quality cable, which both speak to a durable product. The downside for some ears might be their straight-as-a-bullet shape. However, some of our testers found that these casings were uncomfortably pressed on their ear canals.
- Quality construction.
- Good sound for a good price.
- Not much noise isolation.
- Straight shape may be uncomfortable for some ears.
3 Shure SE425 – Best Premium Wired Earbuds
Colors: Clear and Silver
Coming back to Shure, we get to look at the most expensive earbuds on our list in the model SE425 earphones. These are nearly three times the price of the SE215 and five times the SoundMagic E11Cs.
Are they worth it?
We can keep it simple. In most senses, the construction, shape, and features of these in ear monitors are the same as the cheaper SE215 model. They have a loop over ear design with the cable coming up the backs of your ears. This might tickle some ears, possibly, but in general, we found this a snug and secure design.
As far as we could tell, the cable is the same as the cheaper model. It hasn’t got controls, but the standard 1/8” (3.5mm) jack can match most devices, or be swapped out to a cable that includes a mic and in-line controls, a lightning connector, USB-C, or Bluetooth toggles for wireless use. This set also comes with a 1/8” to 1/4″ jack adapter for stereo listening.
Is the sound superior?
In a word, yes! These earbuds are powered by dual high-def microdrivers with a frequency range of 20 Hz – 19 kHz. With this broader range, you’re able to pick up on deeper bass tones and higher highs. The bass here is noticeably more robust and very warm. All ranges, low, mid and high, are clear and sound really good here.
As for noise isolation, we found no difference between these and the SE215s. But those were already pretty darned good for just passive noise blockers. Again, the fit has to be just right, of course.
Great sounding, but…
Overall, these earphones sound better. Significantly better. But three times as good? Not sure.
- Comfortable and quality construction.
- Great overall sound and good noise isolation.
4 Monoprice Triple Driver – Best Wired Earbuds for High End
Next up, Monoprice weighs in with a triple-threat – their Triple Diver earbuds. So, let’s see what stands out about these phones.
These bad boys come in black, jet black, and look pretty serious. They might seem a bit big for earbuds, but that’s because they’re packing three separate drivers in each plastic casing. Each one has a 10mm dynamic driver as well as a 3.8mm mid-range balanced armature and a 2.8mm high-frequency balanced armature.
How’s the resulting sound?
With this combination, the Triple Drivers produce an impressive 20Hz-40kHz frequency response, which means you’re getting pretty much the whole range of musical sounds you could want. We found the low end to be lush and DEEP, and the mid-range clear as crystal. The soaring high end can risk being too high, however, on some tracks.
Not recommend for bagpipe music!
These earphones also feature a 115dB sound pressure level or sensitivity. In other words, they really amplify sound, so where other earphones might not pick up well on tracks recorded at low levels, even at their maximum volume, these give you a real boost.
Again, these earbuds come with three sets (S/M/L) of interchangeable tips. Though they don’t advertise noise isolation, these buds still do a decent job of blocking out a basic level of background sound with a snug fit. However, it’s worth trying out the different tips to find the best compromise. A really tight fit blocks out sound well but can be uncomfortable and far too bass-focused.
A bit of a tangle…
These buds also have in-line controls and a built-in mic, but unfortunately, the cable can tangle pretty easily.
- Great, clear, powerful sound.
- Affordable mid-range price.
- Cable can tangle easily.
- Noise isolation only really works with a quite tight fit.
5 Status Audio IEM-2X – Best Value for the Money Wired Earbuds
Colors: Jet Black and Gunmetal (bluish-grey)
Status Audio follows on the heels of Monoprice with a slightly cheaper and very comparable set of earphones – the IEM 2X. They claim these to produce “audiophile sound” at a mid-range price.
Let’s have a look…
In fact, this is a perfect time to talk about in-ear monitors or so-called IEMs. These can be considered a sub-group of earbuds. Whereas many earbuds sit on the outer edge of the ear canals, IEMs are designed to go right inside. This design tends to give good sound isolation and clarity.
That’s what we find in the IEM 2X…
Each end of this pair of earphones is powered by a pair of drivers, a 9mm dynamic driver, and a balanced armature driver tuned to push out the low end. Together they pick up a frequency range of 20 Hz to 40 kHz, about the best you’re going to do with earbuds.
So it’s no surprise that this product gives a very clear, balanced sound across all ranges and a bit of a bass boost.
How about comfort?
These IEMs really get into your ears. They come with three sizes of silicone tips, but these are thin and designed to really get squeezed in there. We found them quite comfortable, and they also do a halfway decent job of tuning out background noise. We didn’t hear anything in our office test, and they were nearly as good as the Shures in a drum kit test.
They also have in-line controls and a mic, but with music or on calls, we didn’t hear any annoying line noise even when moving around a lot.
In short, affordable great sound!
- Lower-mid-level price.
- Great sound quality – balanced and clear.
- Cord tangles fairly easily.
6 Beats by Dr. Dre UrBeats3 – Best Wired Earbuds for Bass
Colors: Black, Matte Black, Yellow, Coral (pink), Satin Gold, and Satin Silver
Where would an earphone review be without Beats by Dr. Dre? This Apple-paired company loves making a splash, focusing on beat and bass heavy sound and style.
With the urBeats3, they’re right on track with their m.o. These are sleek, good-looking earbuds with solid bass sound.
Let’s take a closer look…
Starting out, these rubber-coated plastic housings have a cool feature – their magnetic backs to help them snap together for easy storage. Combined with tangle-free flat cables, these earbuds are certainly convenient. For size and comfort, they come with four sets (S/M/L/XL) of silicone ear tips, a range that really will fit anyone.
Now the sound…
Beats is famous for drawing the deep bass out of beat-heavy tunes. Here the urBeats3 use a combination of a single axial-aligned driver and laser-cut holes in the acoustic chamber to deliver on this bassy promise.
And it works, with a really solid bass boost you can feel. At the same time, these earbuds have a frequency response of 20Hz – 20 kHz, so they do miss out on some of the high-end sound. The mid-range is clear enough, but there’s a huge bass bias here.
The perfect fit…
A snug fit with the right choice of tips gives decent passive noise isolation. We found these earbuds easily blocked out most office sounds, but on the drum kit, they didn’t fare well.
Overall, if you have a bass bias in your listening, you’ll probably love them. But for clear, balanced audio, these probably aren’t your buds.
To find out, even more, check out our in-depth review of the UrBeats3 Wired Earphones.
- Tangle-free cables and a slick look.
- Solid bass and overall good sound.
- Bass-heavy at the expense of mids and highs.
- Relatively high price driven by brand popularity.
7 JBL Tune 210 – Best Budget Wired Earbuds
Colors: Black, White/Chrome, and White/Rose Gold
We’re now getting into the real low-priced end of our product review, so it’s quite a surprise to see the name JBL down here. This famous speaker brand should have enough sound-producing experience to come out with a great pair of earbuds, right?
Let’s see how they did?
The Tune 210 is one of JBL’s cheapest products but is still well-built. With these earbuds, you’re getting metallic-finished housings and flat cables that really are tangle-free. They come with a built-in mic and a single-button in-line control for taking calls or adjusting audio tracks. As usual, they give you three sizes of silicone tips to choose from.
Hmm, what happens to all those poor tips that never get used?
As for sound, JBL advertises this product as giving the JBL “Pure Bass” sound. We found the low-end warm and strong without being overpowering. The single 8.7mm drivers give a fairly balanced sound with a moderate 20 Hz – 20 kHz frequency range, but we can’t say it’s as clear as the Shure, Monoprice, or Status Audio buds.
However, the high end here can get quite tinny at high volume, which is something that may bother sensitive listeners.
Also, they could be louder…
Another slight issue is that these earbuds offer only a 96 dB driver sensitivity. This can lead to some low-level tracks being too quiet to hear easily on these headphones.
Overall, JBL has done well for this ultra-low price range. But it’s just probably worth investing more.
- Cheap and good quality.
- Tangle-free cables.
- Good overall sound and strong bass.
- Somewhat tinny high end.
- Low sensitivity = no volume boost on quiet audio.
8 1More 1M301 – Best Low Cost Wired Earbuds
Colors: Black/Red and Gold/White
The last pair of earphones on our round-up come in under $20 and surprisingly comes from 1More, a company that’s currently smashing it on the audio scene.
Is there something we’re not getting here?
The 1M301 earbuds are made from aluminum alloy casings and Kevlar-reinforced, nylon wrapped wire. This is looking like some serious durability! Rather than sticking straight into your ears, these buds are angled at 45 degrees for comfort. As usual, you get three sets of interchangeable tips, but this time in XS/S/L sizes.
Actually, the wires are nylon wrapped up to the Y splitter, and then rubber from there up for comfort against the skin. That means the lower portion is tangle-free, but the rubber portion can tangle.
So how do they sound?
Constructed with a single driver in each ear, these earbuds have the standard range of 20 Hz-20 kHz, so you miss out a bit on the high end. We found the bass warm but not exactly powerful. The mid-range was clear and level. Highs were a bit tinny here as well, though less so than the JBL buds.
Noise isolation? Not really. Despite a snug fit, these earbuds did little to block out office sounds and nothing at all against a booming drum kit. However, for this price, we weren’t expecting miracles!
Good, if you’re on a budget…
For a very cheap set of earbuds, these work just fine if you’re more concerned with price than perfect sound quality.
- Very inexpensive for decent sound.
- Durable and (mostly) tangle free.
- Bass and high-end both unimpressive.
- No real noise isolation.
How to Buy Yourself the Best Wired Earbuds
With literally thousands of options out there, making a choice of earbuds can be paralyzing. Don’t worry; we’re here to help! To supplement our product reviews, here are a number of features to consider before choosing the best wired earphones your money can buy…
Despite the booming popularity of wireless Bluetooth earbuds, wireless earbuds are still on the scene. This is due to two basic factors. They don’t need to be charged, and they are cheaper. Usually.
Cheap but OK earbuds can be had for under $20. If you can push your budget up to around $50, you’re absolutely going to find some great options that should be enough for most people out there.
If you’re a fashionista or a true audiophile, you might be willing to push your budget up to $100-$200+, of course, but be warned that small improvements in sound are usually represented by big bumps in price!
Surely a twin factor with price is durability. If you shell out for $200 earphones and they start to fall apart after a few months, you’re not going to be happy! Look to the construction materials and, in most cases, the company’s reputation. Most big-name producers aren’t going to risk putting out garbage, after all.
Earbuds usually fail in their cords, so look for reinforcement like Kevlar or nylon wrapping. Tangle-free or tangle-resistant cables reduce the risk of failures caused by pulling out knots.
Earbud casings should be made of a strong, lightweight material. Aluminum is tough but can create tinny sounds. Plastic comes in many different grades, so look to the reputation of the manufacturer to help you tell the difference.
Noise isolation can be a huge factor in choosing wired earbuds. Background noise can be irritating when you’re trying to focus or just get down to your favorite jams. Some earbuds or in-ear monitors can be used quite effectively for musicians as well, isolating monitor audio and cutting through the buzz.
While several brands offer active noise-canceling features, these can actually produce extra pressure on the ears and be uncomfortable long-term. Passive noise isolation, on the other hand, uses ear-tip fit and bud shape to block out your surroundings.
One consideration, though, is safety. If you jog in busy traffic areas or frequent areas with mean dogs, you might want to avoid noise isolation, and so you can keep track of important sounds happening around you.
Of course, sound quality is the most important feature that sets earbuds apart. Most audio lovers aim for a clear and balanced sound that replicates what’s on the original tracks without any necessary enhancement. Look to frequency ranges of at least 20 Hz – 20 kHz to cover the basic range of most music and video content, and a broader range for excellence.
Bassheads, on the other hand, will want to experience the buzz that booming bass brings. These folks will look to an enhanced, deep bottom end for their audio pleasure.
Looking for more quality earbud options?
Then check out our comprehensive reviews of the Best Sound Quality Earbuds, the Best Wireless Earbuds for Small Ears, the Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds, the Best Headphones and Earbuds for Sleeping, and the Best Earbuds under 50 Dollars you can buy in 2021.
So, what are the Best Wired Earbuds you can buy?
What a challenge. There are so many great options, but we managed to put together a list of the best wired earphones you can find.
Still, we felt there was a clear winner here. With their very reasonable price, good sound isolation, clear audio, and superior range, plus comfortable in-ear fit, the…
…won our hearts and our ears!
You could still spend more for some really superior sound or get a great pair of earbuds for a rock-bottom price, but this is our overall champ.
Here’s wishing you deeply enjoyable listening experiences!